New Law in Pennsylvania Increases Texting and Driving Penalties

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf approved a law that increases the penalties for drivers who text behind the wheel and cause serious or fatal accidents. Known as “Daniel’s Law,” the new law addresses the staggering number of distracted driving accidents and deaths. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,100 people died nationwide in distracted driving accidents during 2014. Another 431,000 suffered injuries. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, meanwhile, reported more than 14,800 distracted driving crashes and 66 deaths last year. 

What do I need to know about Daniel’s Law? 

Under current Pennsylvania law, a motorist who receives a citation for texting while driving must pay a $50 fine, plus court costs and other small fees. The offense does not lead to driver’s license points, and does not go on the motorist’s driving record. A commercial driver only has a non-sanction violation noted on their record. 

With the passage of Daniel’s Law, the courts now have the option to use enhanced penalties if a driver’s texting leads to severe injury or death. These enhanced penalties mean that serious distracted driving crashes now have the same serious consequences as drunk driving accidents. 

Originally introduced as House Bill 853, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed Daniel’s Law this summer. This bipartisan show of support illustrates the importance of cracking down on distracted drivers. Lawmakers hope the passage of this law helps motorists understand the serious nature of distracted driving, and plays a role in reducing the number of texting and driving crashes in the state.

What inspired this law? 

Daniel’s Law is named in honor of Daniel Gallatin, a motorcyclist who was hit and killed in May 2013 by a distracted driver. Gallatin was a military veteran and served his community as a firefighter for almost four decades. Gallatin, a father and grandfather, was struck from behind when the distracted driver failed to brake. 

The driver faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and texting while driving. These were the most serious charges allowed under Pennsylvania law at the time. She entered a guilty plea, and received a sentence of $250 in fines and up to 23 months in jail. She served less than two months, followed by house arrest and probation.

Cordisco & Saile LLC: Your Bucks County Distracted Driving Lawyers 

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by a distracted driver, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to learn more about our services, or to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.