Texting While Driving in Pennsylvania: Understanding the Law

In conversations with friends and family, especially those with teenage or young drivers, a common question comes up: what exactly is the law in Pennsylvania in regards to texting and driving?

Make no mistake about it: Pennsylvania takes texting and driving very seriously as it has become a major epidemic in this state and, indeed, this country. In fact, in Pennsylvania there is a specific Anti-Texting Law codified at 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3316 which reads as follows: “No driver shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic way in this Commonwealth while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. A person does not send, read or write a text-based communication when the person reads, selects or enters a telephone number or name in an interactive wireless communications device for the purpose of activating or deactivating a voice communication or a telephone call.”

An “interactive wireless communication device” is understood to mean a cellphone/smartphone, personal digital assistant, mobile computer or any similar device which can be voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the Internet or instant messaging. It is important to note that this law is not intended to impact the use of GPS systems.

The crime is a summary offense with a penalty of a $50 fine, plus court costs and other fees. A conviction under this statute will not cost the driver points on his record and will not be recorded on the driver record (unless you’re a commercial driver).

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Texting While Driving

IMPACT: The Anti-Texting Law allows law enforcement officers to stop any driver that they observe using a cell phone for “text-based communication.” However, it should be emphasized that this law does not proscribe a driver in Pennsylvania from using a phone or other device to place, receive, or engage in a phone call. What does this mean? That an officer must differentiate between actions that often appear similar, which opens the door for a defense to the officer’s initial stop which should be considered if this initial seizure led to more serious charges (like a DUI).

If you have been charged under the PA Anti-Texting Law, an experienced criminal defense attorney can explain to you your rights and help you prepare the best possible defense. The legal team at Howland Hess O’Connell is available to assist you in handling this matter. A free and confidential consultation is one phone call away at 215-947-6240, or visit us online today.

Legal Disclaimer: The contents of this website are intended solely for informational purposes. They neither constitute nor imply an official legal opinion on behalf of Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Howland Hess O’Connell encourages all readers to seek and consult professional counsel before acting upon the information contained on this site.