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Is cellphone use a primary offense?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense

In some states, cellphone use is prohibited, but only as an additional charge. The police couldn’t stop someone for using their phone. They could just give them a citation if that phone use led to a driving mistake like running a red light or causing a car accident.

But in North Carolina, the law says that using a cellphone itself is illegal. The police can stop the driver if they see them using a mobile device and entering information into it manually. The police certainly could issue this citation after another traffic mistake or a car accident, but they don’t necessarily need to see one. Just using a handheld device is enough.

How can the police prove the device was in use?

One of the biggest complications in these types of cases is if the police cannot prove that the driver was texting or using their device behind the wheel. They may have camera footage, such as if the officer was wearing a body camera or if a picture of the driver was captured on a red light camera. But they may not have anything more than the officer’s allegations about what they think they saw.  

In some cases, the police departments will seek to pull digital records. For example, if they can get a record of text messages sent and received from the cellphone provider, and it shows that these messages were being sent while the person was driving the car, that could be supporting evidence of distraction.

But you can already tell how complicated a case like this can be. If you are facing such allegations, or if you’ve been given a citation, take the time to look into all of your legal defense options.