The New Mexico State Legislature has passed a law that now prohibits drivers from texting or checking emails on phones or tablets, even if they are stopped in traffic or at a stop light. According to an article by the Daily Times, the ban went into effect on July 1 of this year. Some New Mexico cities and counties had already enacted similar bans, but with this law, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Susana Martinez, the ban is now statewide. Drivers that are caught in the act of texting or surfing the web on their phone while driving will be fined $25 for a first offense, and $50 for each subsequent offense. Drivers are still permitted to use GPS devices while driving, and texting is allowed in emergency situations.
The Dangers of Texting While Driving
Although the distraction caused by looking at and using a phone while behind the wheel seems obvious, many New Mexico drivers do not care to stop the practice. According to the article, it appears that cell phone use while driving has contributed to a noticeable increase in collisions in which vehicles are rear-ended. Texting while driving presents a danger that is comparable to drunk driving. According to a study noted in the article, the police receive “a lot” of complaints from concerned drivers that another driver is drunk, but when they pull over the suspected DUI, it turns out the driver was sober, and “messing with their phone.”
The New Law’s Effect on Accident Lawsuits
This new law will likely make it easier for plaintiffs in New Mexico accident lawsuits to prove that the defendant driver was at fault, if it can be shown that that driver was texting at or before the time of the accident. It is possible to access phone and internet records to determine if a defendant was online at the time the accident occurred. If a defendant driver admits, is witnessed, or can be shown to have been texting at the time of an accident, it is now easier for a plaintiff to make a case that the driver was negligent, and that such negligence was the cause of the accident and any damage or injuries.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that is used by New Mexico accident attorneys to prove a defendant’s liability without having to prove every element of a traditional negligence case. If a defendant violates a law and causes an accident, and the law was designed to protect against the type of accident that occurred, then the defendant is said to be per se negligent if the violation of the law led to the accident.
With this new texting ban, that means that a defendant who was texting at or before the time of an accident is automatically found to be in breach of a duty to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff only needs to show that the defendant’s texting led to damages being suffered. Innocent drivers should not be required to jump through a multitude of legal hurdles to get what they deserve, and the passage of this law should make obtaining judgments against drivers that are distracted by texting and cause an accident a little bit easier.
Have You Been in an Accident?
If you or someone you know has been hit and injured or killed by another driver, and you suspect that they may have been texting at the time of the accident, you should call a skilled New Mexico personal injury attorney today. Even if the accident occurred before July 1, 2014 when this ban went into effect, the experienced attorneys at The Fine Law Firm can make a case for standard negligence, and give you a chance of getting what you deserve. The Fine Law Firm accepts all types of personal injury cases, including car accidents. Give us a call at (585)-889-3463 and schedule a free consultation today. You can also set up a consultation through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Distracted Driver Causes Crash on Interstate 25 That Leaves One Dead, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 5, 2014.
New Mexico Supreme Court Finds That Lack of Foreseeability Does Not Prevent a Premises Liability Claim from Going to Trial, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 20, 2014.