The Law Regarding Using a Hand Held Mobile Device While Driving
This particular law is federal in origin, and most states have adopted the language of this law and incorporated it into their administrative code. The federal statute reads:
(1) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV [commercial motor vehicle].
(2) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV [commercial motor vehicle].
What are the consequences of being found guilty of texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle?
This violation is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. This means there is the potential for up to six months in jail, and $2,500 in fines plus surcharges, which would nearly double the fine. In practice, jail time is unlikely and the fine will be less than the maximum.
The cop couldn’t see into the defendant’s vehicle to observe the violation.
How did the cop see into the defendant’s vehicle while driving along on the highway? There is a good chance the cop couldn’t actually see what the defendant was doing (or not doing) and he’s just making a guess. The cop knows most people will end up paying the massive fine and never take the case to trial, so this is a great way for cops to generate revenue. Cops don’t care that a charge like this could screw the career of a commercial driver. Let’s not even get into the fact that cops talk on phones and radios while driving, that cops have a computer attached to their dashboard that they use to look up information while driving, or the fact that cops commit any number of civil and criminal traffic violations in the course of their “revenue generation” duties.
Was the defendant “using” a hand held mobile device?
To answer this, we must look at the definition of using a hand held mobile device:
Using a hand-held mobile telephone means:
(1) Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication;
(2) Dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or
(3) Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed in accordance with 49 CFR 393.93 and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. (See 49 CFR 390.5)
The driver may be able to obtain phone records that show he or she was not using the mobile device at the time of the alleged violation. The defendant may also be able to argue that he was just picking his phone up off the floor, or just pressing answer on his dash-mounted phone. This argument will depend on the facts of the particular case.