Reasonable Suspicion for Texting While Driving in North Carolina

By Joel Hancock

While we live very fast-paced lives, often multi-tasking, certain things are illegal to do at the same time. One such thing is texting while driving. When you are operating a motor vehicle, you may not also be on your phone. But how does an officer have reasonable suspicion, known as probable cause, to stop a vehicle in North Carolina? After all, it can be very difficult to prove that you were texting at the time that you were stopped by law enforcement.

So why is texting while driving illegal? When you take a look at the statistics it’s easy to understand. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in the United States. 

A Serious Issue

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2013 until 2018 there were about 23,000 accidents that resulted in a fatality due to distracted driving. For this reason, North Carolina is one of 48 states that have passed laws making texting while driving and distracted driving illegal. 

While it’s hard to say exactly how many accidents occur as a result of texting, it is likely significantly unreported or underreported. This is because those who engage in it understand that it is against the law. Younger, less experienced drivers perpetrate a good amount of these accidents. 

Unfortunately, it is not a lack of understanding that causes drivers to engage in illegal behaviors. Rather it is a lack of regard for the law. 

Sufficient Probable Cause

Although it may prove difficult for a police officer to physically see you in the act of texting, he or she may be able to develop sufficient probable cause to stop you or reasonable suspicion to suspect criminal activity based upon how you are driving. 

Under North Carolina law, not only is it illegal to text while driving, but it is also illegal to read texts or emails or to type multiple letters, responding to texts, emails, social media posts, or the like. 

Consequences of Texting and Driving

While texting while driving is generally considered an infraction, it can still result in court costs and a fine of $100 if you are convicted. However, if you are found to be texting while driving a school bus, you will be charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor offense, which could lead to jail time depending upon your prior record. While you will not receive points for texting and driving, the act of even getting into an accident can negatively impact your vehicle insurance rates. 

It’s important to remember that to be pulled over – for any crime – law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion. If you have been charged with texting and driving after being issued another traffic ticket or motor violation, it’s important to examine the facts of the case. 

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Texting and Driving

A conviction for texting and driving can have a relatively significant impact on you. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.