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Pennsylvania No Texting Law Goes Into Effect; What does it mean?
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 03/07/12 12:58 pm | updated: 03/07/12 12:58 pm
Starting Thursday, if you are texting while driving then you could be pulled over for violating the new PA No Texting law.

Basically, "texting" involves reading, writing, or sending any text-based message from any sort of wireless device such as a phone, laptop, PDA, etc. The text message could be a regular SMS text, an IM, or an email. It doesn't matter, if you are driving and in-motion you can't be reading, writing, nor sending any text messages. Once you stop it's ok.

The law does make the distinction that dialing a phone number is not texting and looking at a GPS is not texting and should not get you in trouble.

This is a primary offense, meaning that police officers don't have to have any other reason to pull you over if they suspect you are breaking the texting law. The fine is $50.

The biggest problem lies in enforcement. How can an officer know what you were doing with your device and if you were texting or something else? Officers can only observe behavior, such as erratic driving or manipulating the phone over a long distance without any sort of voice communication before making a stop. They can't seize your phone or even look at it to determine what you were doing with it, but they can make a reasonable assertion that you were texting and then issue a fine.

Just don't play around with your phone while you are driving, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel where they are supposed to be. "Dnt txt n drv" as the campaign says.

This law also preempts any local ordinances on driving and phones, so Philadelphia's total mobile device ban will be preempted. Drivers in Philly won't have to use hands free to talk anymore.

See also: PA Texting Law to Overshadow Philadelphia Cellphone Ban


Section 3316 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (75 Pa.C.S.A. 3316)

(a) Prohibition.--No driver shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway or trafficway 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.

(b) (Reserved).

(c) Seizure.--The provisions of this section shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of an interactive wireless communications device, unless otherwise provided by law.

(d) Penalty.--A person who violates subsection (a) commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $50.

(e) Preemption of local ordinances.--In accordance with section 6101 (relating to applicability and uniformity of title), this section supersedes and preempts all ordinances of any municipality with regard to the use of an interactive wireless communications device by the driver of a motor vehicle.

(f) Definition.--As used in this section, the term “text-based communication” means a text message, instant message, electronic mail or other written communication composed or received on an interactive wireless communications device.

What is an Interactive Communication Device?

“Interactive wireless communications device.” is a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar device which can be used for voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the Internet or instant messaging. The term does not include any of the following:

(1) a device being used exclusively as a global positioning or navigation system;

(2) a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle; or

(3) a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.
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