Cell phones are a significant part of our everyday lives. As useful as they are, cell phones are distracting, especially when driving.
Since 2001, car accidents caused by distracted cell phone users have nearly doubled.
In 2018, distracted drivers using cell phones caused 1,081 car accidents. The crashes caused 524 related injuries and nine deaths.
In response to accidents like these, in 2017, Iowa passed a distracted driving law aimed at reducing cell-phone-related car accidents.
Understanding Iowa’s distracted driving laws will help you understand your rights. If a distracted driver hit you while using a cell phone, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
What Is Distracted Driving?
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, distracted driving includes any activity that diverts attention from driving, including:
- Talking or texting on your phone,
- Eating or drinking while driving,
- Talking to passengers in the vehicle, and
- Adjusting the radio or speaker system.
Driving is a huge responsibility and can be dangerous; safe driving requires a driver’s full attention.
All of these activities take a driver’s attention away from the road and increases the risk of car accidents.
What Is Iowa’s Cell Phone Law?
To discourage drivers from using a cell phone while driving, Iowa passed a distracted driving law.
Under the law, police officers may stop a driver who is doing one of the following while driving:
- Reading, writing, or sending a text message; or
- Using any other hand-held, portable electronic device while driving.
A hand-held electronic device includes any electronic device that sends or receives electronic messages.
Iowa Cell Phone Law Does Not Apply to the Following People:
- Members of a public safety agency, such as police officers, while performing an official duty;
- Health care professionals during an emergency;
- Individuals receiving safety-related information, including emergency, weather, or traffic alerts.
Iowa’s Texting Law Does Not Apply to the Following Electronics:
- Hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth speakers,
- GPS navigation devices, and
- Cell phones if the driver is using the device to talk and not to text.
Additionally, an Iowa driver may use a hand-held electronic device while still in the car if the car is at a complete stop and the car is not in the roadway. But once the car is in operation, the driver must stop using the device.
Iowa Cell Phone Law and Minors
Drivers under age 20 have the highest risk for cell-phone-related crashes.
Young drivers tend to use electronic devices more frequently and send more texts than those in older age groups.
Because of this trend, Iowa cell phone laws prohibit young drivers from using any electronic devices while driving.
This includes those who are using an instruction permit or an intermediate driver license from using hand-held electronic devices at any time while driving, including making phone calls.
However, if the vehicle has a permanently installed electronic device, a minor driver may use it while driving.
What Is the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Enforcement of Distracted Driving Laws?
Police officers may enforce driving violations through two different methods, depending on the state and its respective laws.
Primary enforcement driving laws allow a police officer to stop and issue a ticket if they observe a violation of that law.
With secondary enforcement laws, a police officer may stop and enforce a violation only if they observed the person violate another primary enforcement law.
Iowa uses a primary enforcement system for its cell phone law. An officer may stop and ticket a driver if the officer observes the driver violating the distracted driving law.
Penalties and Enforcements
Penalties for violating Iowa’s cell phone law depend on the age of the driver and the extent of the injuries.
Adults who send, receive, or read text messages while driving must pay a $30 fine, plus any associated costs and fees.
If a minor receives a ticket for using an electronic device while driving, he or she may face license suspension and a $50 fine. Additionally, it will take more time to earn a full driver license.
If a driver uses an electronic device while driving and causes a car crash resulting in injury, the driver will face harsher penalties.
A driver who causes “serious injury” to another driver or passenger faces penalties including:
- A fine up to $500 and
- A suspended license for up to 90 days.
If a driver violates the distracted driving law and causes a car crash resulting in death, the penalties increase substantially.
Depending on the circumstances, the driver may face:
- A fine up to $10,000,
- Up to 10 years in prison, and
- Possible “homicide-by-vehicle” charges.
Distracted driving violations can have serious consequences. In addition to legal penalties, distracted drivers may also face civil lawsuits to compensate victims who suffered injuries from the car crash.
What Can I Do If a Distracted Driver Hit Me and I’m Injured
If you suffered injuries from an Iowa car crash, you should first seek medical attention.
Your doctor will:
- Assess your injuries,
- Prescribe you proper treatment, and
- Provide you a copy of your medical report.
Once you receive treatment, you should consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. You may be entitled to financial compensation. Your attorney can explain the law to you, assess your claim, and fight for your interests.
Filing a personal injury claim can be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. Hiring an attorney improves your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Your attorney will:
- Thoroughly investigate your claim;
- Gather witness statements, police reports, and medical records;
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf;
- Research the relevant law and apply it to your case; and
- If necessary, represent you in court during trial.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Iowa, you should not have to face insurance companies and defense attorneys alone.
Your injury attorney will guide you through the process and help protect your rights under the law.
Contact a Qualified Iowa Personal Injury Attorney Today
The injury attorneys at VanDerGinst Law care deeply about our clients’ interests.
We provide highly personalized legal services, and we will assist you every step of the way. We have extensive experience representing victims of car accidents, a keen knowledge of Iowa law, and the resources to give you the representation you deserve.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.