Even though a recent change in Colorado law increased the penalty for texting while driving from $50 per violation to $300 per violation, thanks to some interesting language contained in this new law, many people are now confused about whether texting behind the wheel may now be legal in certain instances.
As we pointed out in an earlier blog, drivers can only be cited for violating the new texting-while-driving law if a police officer actually see them using their cellphone for texting, and this texting is done in a way that causes the individuals to drive in a “careless and imprudent manner.”
While the new language contained in Colorado’s texting-while-driving law may appear clear at first glance, there are nevertheless differing views about what it actually means.
For instance, according to a report last month by the Denver Post, Tim Lane of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council stated, “The simple fact is that if you are texting while driving but not being careless, it’s no longer illegal.”
Conversely, Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, recently told Colorado Politics that this new language does not imply that it is now okay to text and drive, but quite the opposite.
Court stated, “[Texting while driving] is dangerous, careless, imprudent behavior, so we put the words in that say that it is ‘careless’ and ‘imprudent’ just like careless driving.” She added that texting while driving is the same as being careless, therefore, texting is, by default, careless.
Given these differing views, you may ask yourself, is texting legal or not? Well, the answer may lie somewhere in between. For instance, in the same Denver Post report mentioned above, Mike Phibbs, the legislative chair for the Colorado Association for Chiefs of Police, stated, “The focus of the law isn’t for people who are stopped at stop lights or pulled over on the road texting.”
So maybe the definitive factor police may look for when enforcing this law is whether the car is actually moving or not when the driver is texting. Ultimately, we may just have to wait and see what police and prosecutors decide to do.