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Utah Drivers Beware—Some of What You’ve Been Told About the New Texting Law Will Get You a Ticket

Most Utah drivers are aware by now that the latest version of Utah’s Distracted Driving law goes into effect today. But the news story you heard or the article you read may have set you up to get a ticket. This article will help you make sure you know what you can and can’t do (at least to the extent that the law itself is clear…which is open for debate).don't text and drive in Utah

Under the law, you cannot write, send, or read a text message while operating a motor vehicle. But this law is about more than just texting. You cannot enter any kind of information into a phone or any other handheld wireless device while operating a motor vehicle. That means no emailing, no dialing phone numbers, no changing your playlist.

Contrary to what The Daily Herald reported, it also means that you cannot enter coordinates into a GPS or search for a Google map. This confusion probably originated in the exception in the law which allows you to look at a GPS (look only—not type). So if you need directions you will have to search the address before you leave your driveway. And, if you read on ksl.com that you can search your contacts while driving, you may find yourself on the side of the road trying to explain that to Highway Patrol. ANY data entry into your phone while the car is moving can get you a ticket.

Talking on the phone and using voice commands are still okay. And if you find yourself in an emergency go ahead and do anything with your phone that needs to be done. For everything else, don’t take the chance. It’s a quick way to make a $100 dollar donation to the government and invite your insurance company to raise your rates for the next 3-5 years.

You can read the whole law for yourself at https://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE41/htm/41_06a171600.htm.

4 Comments

  • Josh says:

    In the law itself it says \”operating a moving motor vehicle,\” As opposed to simply \”operating a motor vehicle\” or \”operating an idling vehicle\”. I would think the intention of the verbiage would be to allow checking or manipulating the device while stopped at a red light. I\’m not an attorney but just curious as to why you took the stance above.

  • John E says:

    The line says operate a moving motor vehicle, meaning if you are stopped at a red light, you are not moving.

  • Devin says:

    I find it amazing that people do not mention that this law only applies to state highways. The title says \’while operating a motor vehicle\’, but subsection 2 states:
    \”A person may not use a handheld wireless communication device while operating a moving motor vehicle on a highway in this state…\”

    No one mentions that this law does NOT apply to all city traffic. Why not?

  • Devin says:

    Dang. I was wrong.

    \”Highway\” or \”street\” means the entire width between property lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part of it is open to the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular traffic.

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