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Utah implements tighter distracted driving law, following example of new york

distracted driver in Utah
distracted driver in Utah
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Utah cell phone violation points and fines when convicted are going up. The State has made it clear that distracted driving is clearly a primary target of legislation and enforcement. “The current law isn’t too terribly enforceable, so in this law, we have added some clarification, we’ve tightened the language, so hopefully it is enforceable," Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George said.

States like New York have been leading the way in the distracted driving law enforcement regimen, according to New York attorney Scott Feifer, who is a partner in the firm Feifer and Greenberg LLP.

Says Feifer, "As of June 1, 2013, drivers convicted of using a cell phone or using a handheld electronic device will have 5 violation points added to their New York drivers license or NY record if licensed in another state."

However, Utah drivers shouldn't be too concerned, yet. The UHP said on Tuesday May 13, drivers can expect to see troopers stopping vehicles and issuing warning citations for texting and driving. They won't be giving out any tickets until the 'educational' period is done.

If you live in a state other than Utah or New York, you might also be interested to see the cellphone/handheld device driving laws for your particular state, shown at the National Conference of State Legislatures' site.

For future planning purposes, if you do happen to get a ‘distracted driving’ ticket, Scott Feifer has some further advice about why you may want to fight the ticket.

Insurance companies have their own internal systems of calculating points to determine which drivers are a greater risk to insure. In fact, some insurance companies consider some no point violations (seat belt, for example) evidence that a driver is a greater risk and will potentially raise insurance rates for these no point violations.

From an insurance perspective, consider the severity of the violation to be the important factor, not whether your state chooses to assess 1, 10 or 100 points for a particular violation.

Insurance companies don’t suddenly consider a cellphone ticket more serious just because Utah State made it a two point violation instead of no points in February 2011. To the insurance company, the violation constitutes the same risk it always did.

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