Extending Your Student Visa

A student visa that lets you study at the university of your choice is a terrific thing for you. But what happens if your studies take longer than you planned? On top of exams and term papers, you may have to worry about your student visa expiring. That’s where an immigration lawyer can be your best friend. Understanding how immigration laws work can be the first step to making sure that you keep your student visa in good standing. My blog is all about immigration issues, especially those faced by foreign students. Check out the articles for more information that you can use to complete your studies in the country you chose to study in.

Charged With Texting While Driving In Louisiana? What Are Your Options?

Law Articles

If you've recently been cited for unlawfully using your cell phone while traveling one of Louisiana's highways, you may be dismayed at the thought of having to pay a hefty fine while dealing with increased auto insurance costs for years to come. In some cases, insult may be added to economic injury after you're charged with a misdemeanor (such as reckless driving) for your cell phone usage behind the wheel. Are there any potential defenses against a charge of texting while driving, or will you be forced to take your lumps and go hands-free? Read on to learn more about how Louisiana treats cell phone usage while operating a vehicle, as well as some of your potential defenses to a civil violation or criminal charge of texting while driving. 

How is texting while driving classified in Louisiana?

Although there is no nationwide ban on texting while driving (or general cell phone use while driving), most states have enacted laws that assess civil or even criminal penalties for certain cell phone-related behaviors behind the wheel. 

Louisiana's cell phone laws are among the strictest in the nation, and prohibit any and all cell phone use for teen drivers, teen and adult drivers who have a learner's permit only, and even school and municipal bus drivers. Those found to have violated this law could be subject to fines of $100 or more, and these fines may be doubled if the cell phone use led to an accident. 

Louisiana's broadly-written cell phone law helps avoid legal loopholes like those found in states that prohibit only texting while driving. Because some states' prohibitions on cell phone use behind the wheel are specific to text messages, someone who is browsing a social media app, reading a group chat, or even playing a game may not be deemed to be "texting" while driving and is therefore not breaking the law.

Although these traffic ordinances are civil in nature -- meaning you can't be criminally charged or jailed for violating them -- there are still some situations in which cell phone usage behind the wheel could give rise to criminal charges of reckless driving. If you're charged with this misdemeanor, you could be facing up to 90 days in jail and/or suspension of your driver's license. 

What are your legal options if you're fined or criminally charged for texting while driving?

If you've been issued a ticket or assessed a fine for texting while driving, there are a few potential defenses to this claim. The first is emergency – if you're able to successfully demonstrate that you were using your cell phone to contact help for yourself or someone else at the time you were pulled over, your deviation from Louisiana's cell phone laws may be permitted and no fine or other penalties will be assessed. 

In other cases, you may find yourself facing criminal charges related to your cell phone use while driving. The most likely scenario in which you'd be criminally charged for operating a cell phone behind the wheel is if you're involved in an at-fault property damage or personal injury accident and there is enough probable cause to assume that -- if not for your texting -- the accident would not have occurred. 

Emergency may also be an acceptable defense to a criminal charge, although you'll need to provide solid evidence – like cell phone usage logs or even a 911 transcript – indicating that you were only using your phone for emergency purposes and an emergency did indeed exist. If you're unable to meet this burden of proof, you may want to instead negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor to allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge and avoid jail time or other penalties. 

If you're facing criminal charges for texting while driving, contact a criminal defense attorney in your state for help.


11 May 2016