Distracted driving is becoming an increasingly fatal occurrence in Louisiana, and the state has strict laws to try and prevent it. By knowing and following these rules, you can drive safer and avoid being fined and penalized.
What Are the Rules
Louisiana law prohibits the use of hand-held devices while driving. This means that drivers are not allowed to read or write messages, which include texts, emails, and instant messages, engage with social media, or make calls without a hands-free device. There are certain exceptions, such as if you are reporting criminal behavior or managing a navigation device (GPS).
Restrictions are increased in certain areas. An example is school zones during posted hours. In these areas, all phone use is prohibited.
What are the Penalties
Penalties for distracted driving in Louisiana range from $250-$1000 in fines and periods of license suspension.
For first offenders with regular licenses, fines reach up to $500, doubling if their distraction resulted in a collision. If it was a second or subsequent offense, the offender is subject to a 60-day license suspension and up to $1000 in fines. The fines are also doubled if there is a collision.
First offenders carrying learners or intermediate licenses face fines of up to $500, and subsequent offenses will lead to fines of up to $1000. All fines are doubled in the case of a collision.
Underage drivers who are charged with distracted driving face up to $250 in fines for first offenses, and 60-day license suspension and up to $500 in fines for subsequent offenses.
Additional Costs of Distracted Driving
Beyond fines and suspensions, distracted driving can have further, unofficial, penalties. Drivers often see their insurance rates go up after receiving a distracted driving ticket. They can also experience the lasting effects of being involved in an accident directly caused by distracted driving. These can include court fees, medical bills, and damages beyond what their insurance covers.