March is distracted driving awareness month, and considering we have seen a significant uptick in the number of distracted driving cases we’ve been asked to take on, we thought it would be a good idea to put distracted driving in the spotlight.
According to the Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety, distracted driving is one of the “Fatal Four” driving characteristics, along with drunk driving, failing to wear a seat belt, and speeding. Minnesota police say that roughly one in four traffic fatalities can be traced back to distracted driving, but they believe that number may actually be much higher because oftentimes it’s difficult to pinpoint or prove what a driver was doing at the moment of the crash.
Distracted Driving Ticket in Minnesota
When you think of distracted driving, you probably think of texting and driving, and while that is a form of the violation, it’s not the only way to earn the ticket. According to the law, there are three main ways in which your actions can meet the threshold of being distracted behind the wheel. The law considers:
Manual Distractions – These distractions are classified as anything that takes our hands off the safe position on the wheel. Things like applying makeup, doing your hair, reading a book, changing the song on your iPod or eating that Cheeseburger from McDonald’s are all forms of manual distractions.
Visual Distractions – These distractions are classified as anything that takes our eyes off the road. Texting while driving falls into this category, as do things like sending an email on your phone, checking Facebook, looking for something on the floor of your car or turning around to talk to your children while you’re driving.
Cognitive Distractions – Finally, cognitive distractions are things that consume your attention and, although you may still be looking at the road, can inhibit your focus. Conversations with others in the car, singing along to the radio or listening to audio tapes of classroom lectures are all forms of cognitive distractions.
Now, just because they are distracting doesn’t mean they meet the threshold of a citation. After all, it would be ridiculous to think that you could be cited for having a conversation with someone you’re riding with. However, if the police officer who witnesses the incident believes that your actions break the threshold of reckless or careless, or they create an unsafe situation for other vehicles, you can be ticketed.
The cost of a distracted driving violation in Minnesota varies by county, but on average they are about $225 when all court costs are accounted for. On top of that, there’s a good chance that your car insurance premiums will increase, which can cost you a lot more in the long run. A simple ticket can easily cost you more than $1,000 when all is said and done, which is why it is often in your best interest to contest the ticket.
Police officers are going to be out and about this month looking for distracted drivers, and they aren’t going to let you off with a warning. Hopefully you heed our warning and can avoid a citation, but if you end up with a ticket, please consider fighting it in court. These cases are tough for the prosecution to prove, and the ticket can be much more costly than you imagine. Let us help you, and we can start that process with a free case strategy session. To set up that meeting at no cost to you, reach out to us at (952) 224-2277.