Driver driving a car on asphalt road in summer day at park. Woman at steering wheel with smartphone in her hand.

Distracted driving is a significant problem that has gotten worse with the use of smartphones and cell phones. Every year, thousands of injuries and deaths occur because of texting and driving. As a result, North Carolina and many other states have made texting while driving illegal. 

There are some exceptions to the general prohibition against texting and driving. If you’ve gotten a traffic ticket for texting and driving, you could be facing fines, points on your driver’s license, and other negative consequences. Don’t hesitate to contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of getting our clients’ tickets dismissed or reduced. 

North Carolina’s Texting While Driving Law

In North Carolina, drivers over the age of 18 can use their phones to make voice calls while driving. However, drivers cannot drive while texting or sending emails using a cell phone. Specifically, it’s illegal to drive while manually entering multiple letters or text as a means of communicating with another person. The prohibition against texting and driving applies to all drivers operating a motor vehicle on North Carolina’s public streets, highways, and public vehicular areas. 

The prohibition applies to passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, motorcycles, and motorized “conveyances” as defined under Chapter 20 “Motor Vehicles.” Additionally, it’s illegal to read any electronic text message or email transmitted to the electronic device or stored on the device. There is an exception for reading names and numbers stored in the device as caller identification.

Can a Police Officer Pull Me Over for Texting While Driving in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina is a primary offense state. Law enforcement officers have the right to stop drivers and issue them a ticket solely for violating a traffic law. In other words, you can be pulled over for texting while driving exclusively, even if you aren’t violating any other traffic laws. 

Texting and Driving While Under the Age of 18

If you’re under the age of 18, you cannot use your cell phone for any non-emergency reasons unless the vehicle has been stopped. Drivers under the age of 18 are only allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving for the purpose of communicating with their parents, guardian, or spouse. The penalty for texting while driving as a minor is a $25 fine. No court costs, license points, or insurance points will be assessed against the driver.

The Benefits of Fighting a Traffic Ticket

In many cases, a ticket for texting while driving is considered an infraction, as set forth in N.C.G.S. 20-137.4A. This law states that no insurance surcharge or driver’s license points can be assessed as a result of being convicted of texting while driving. 

However, there are some instances when prosecutors can pursue Class 2 misdemeanor charges against a driver for texting and driving. For example, when texting allegedly occurs while operating a school bus, the defendant can face more serious charges, with the possibility of fines, court costs, probation, and even jail time, when legally appropriate. 

Additionally, many drivers who receive a ticket for texting while driving receive additional tickets at the same time. For example, they may be pulled over for texting while driving. If a police officer smells alcohol or sees drug paraphernalia during the stop, the officer may arrest the driver for a DWI or drug-related crime. 

The police officer may charge a driver with failure to properly maintain lane control or even issue a citation for driving while distracted or “unsafe movement.” Fighting the ticket and any other charges you’re facing can help you avoid costly insurance premium increases and fines. It also could help you avoid a criminal record.

Fighting a Ticket for Texting While Driving

Working with a criminal defense attorney can help you develop the best defense possible against a ticket for texting while driving. Depending on the facts of your case, one of the exceptions to the general prohibition against texting while driving may apply to you. The prohibition of texting while driving won’t apply when one or more of the following exceptions have been met:

  • The driver was lawfully stopped or parked, including being stopped at a traffic light
  • The driver was texting while driving in the performance of his or her official duties as a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, or an ambulance operator
  • The driver is using a GPS device for navigational purposes
  • The driver is using voice-operated texting technology

One of the exceptions to the law may give you a possible defense if it applies to you. For example, if you can prove you were parked or stopped at a red light when you allegedly texted, one of the exceptions will apply, and your attorney can petition the court to dismiss the ticket against you. 

Although phone records could potentially be used to prove you were texting while driving when not at a stoplight, the state is unlikely to obtain a subpoena every time a driver is pulled over for texting while driving. Consequently, drivers have a good chance of getting their tickets dismissed with the help of an experienced attorney. 

Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in North Carolina

Have you been charged with a traffic infraction, such as texting while driving, or another motor vehicle offense? If so, the attorneys at Greene Wilson Crow & Smith are here to help. Our skilled attorneys have extensive experience getting traffic tickets dismissed for our clients. If you’re also facing more serious charges, such as for a DWI, marijuana, or drug possession charge, we will provide you with a strong legal defense. Don’t hesitate to contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.