Utah has widely been known as one of the first and toughest when it comes to texting laws. In fact, a class C misdemeanor can be heightened to a class B misdemeanor or possibly a third-degree felony if the violator causes bodily injury or death while texting and driving.
Unfortunately, while the laws appeared to be tough, the language itself made it very difficult to successfully prosecute violators. In essence, the law was all bark and very little bite as it required prosecutors to prove that the driver was in fact texting at the time an accident occurred.
It was with these difficulties in mind that the Utah Legislature amended Utah's texting statute. Having taken effect May 8, 2012, the new amended version of the law makes it illegal to do anything but to make or receive a call on one's cell phone.
The law prohibits a person who is operating a motor vehicle from using a cell phone to do the following:
- Text message
- Enter data
- Send, read or enter data, text, or images; and/or
- Manipulate an application
These changes in Utah should result in making it easier for prosecutors to prove cases in which drivers are distracted by cell phone usage.