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Can You Use Your Phone at a Red Light?

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Lady holding her phone while behind the wheel of her car

It is evident when a driver is using their phone at a red light. Either we see a driver next to us with their head turned down toward their lap, or we see the car in front of us taking too long to move when the light turns green.

Although many people may seem to engage in this activity, that does not mean it is legal. Get informed on this common question so you can protect your rights.

North Carolina’s Laws for Using a Phone in a Vehicle

Laws regarding device usage in vehicles, or “distracted driving laws,” vary from state to state. In North Carolina, the laws are as follows:

  • No driver may use a phone for sending texts or emails while driving.
  • No driver under the age of 18 may use a cellphone at all while driving.

There are a few exceptions to these laws, including the following:

  • The operator of a vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.
  • The operator of a vehicle is a law enforcement officer on duty.
  • The operator is using a mounted GPS system.
  • The operator is using voice commands.

The exception that may apply to the question of using a phone while stopped at a red light is the one that states, “the operator of a vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.” However, being stopped at a red light does not mean being lawfully stopped, because the driver is still in active control of the vehicle, the vehicle is not shifted into park, and the vehicle is in the middle of a street with active traffic.

Violation of these laws may result in a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine of no less than $100. Any other violations shall constitute an infraction and be punishable by a fine of $100 and the costs of court.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today

Even something as seemingly harmless as sending a text while stopped at a red light can have serious consequences. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a distracted driver, our North Carolina personal injury attorneys are here to help. We have helped many motor vehicle accident victims recover the compensation they deserve, and we may be able to help you, too.

Call Lanier Law Group, P.A. at (855) 757-4204 to schedule a free consultation.