The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) estimates that distracted driving was a factor in more than 15,000 crashes in 2017. Law enforcement officials issued 5,054 distracted driving citations in 2017—a 51% increase from 3,336 in 2016. Montgomery County, right outside Philadelphia, received the most citations, followed by Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania passed Daniel’s Law on November 4, 2016, and it went into effect in 2017. The fine for texting and driving in Pennsylvania seems cheap at first, at only $50, but when you take into account the court costs, surcharge, and additional fees, it can all add up.
What are the texting and driving laws in Pennsylvania?
It is a primary law in Pennsylvania that drivers can’t text while driving. If an officer observes you texting and driving, you can be pulled over and get a ticket—even if you didn’t violate any other laws. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the group chat—you’d better wait to find out!
Pennsylvania bans all text-based communication while driving. This includes sending emails, writing tweets, or reading any messages you may have received.
The overall use of hand-held devices is not prohibited, though. You can make phone calls, choose your favorite tunes, and plug addresses into your GPS without fear. Be cautious, though, because these are all forms of distracted driving.
PennDOT warns that drivers won’t be able to react as quickly if they are:
- Eating, drinking, or smoking
- Adjusting the stereo
- Interacting with other passengers
- Looking for an object
- Reading or writing
- Looking at something off the roadway
Texting and driving also takes your focus off driving, which is what makes it so dangerous.
What are the penalties for texting and driving in Pennsylvania?
Texting and driving in Pennsylvania is a summary offense. A summary offense is a type of criminal conviction, so it will show up during a routine background check. The state of Pennsylvania will fine you $50 if you are convicted of texting and driving.
A $50 fine may not seem that bad, but keep in mind that you are also responsible for court costs and fees, as well as a surcharge and additional fees. When you add everything up, a texting and driving citation can cost you over $100!
If you cause injury or kill someone because you were texting and driving, you could face extreme penalties. Pennsylvania passed Daniel’s Law in 2016, which increases penalties against distracted drivers who cause harm to others.
Death or injury to another party changes the offense from a summary offense to a criminal offense. Daniel’s law adds up to 5 years to any jail time assigned to drivers who are found guilty of injuring or killing because of distracted driving. Causing serious bodily injury carries a maximum sentence of two years.
Even if you avoid causing death or injury to someone else, it takes time and effort to remove a summary offense from your record. Adults must go five years without any other arrests to clear a summary offense in addition to paying all associated fines and costs.
A faster route is to take part in the Summary Diversion Program. This means you’ll pay $200 and take a class. If you do this, you can have your record expunged in six months. It’s still an expensive and time-consuming way to expunge your record compared to not texting and driving in the first place.
Are there exceptions to Pennsylvania’s texting and driving law?
Yes. Pennsylvania allows the following exceptions:
- Using a GPS system
- Using a system that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle
- Using handheld devices when the vehicle is not in motion
That’s right—under Pennsylvania law, you can check your phone when stuck in a traffic jam or stopped at a red light or stop sign. Be aware though,
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)estimates that 36% of car crashes nationwide happen at intersections. It’s much safer to wait until you’ve parked to check your Instagram notifications.
Are there special rules about texting and driving for young drivers?
No. Penalties are the same whether a driver is an adult or under 18. However, there is pending legislation to ban the use of all electronic devices, hands-free or not, for drivers under 18.
Key Takeaway You can still use GPS or integrated electronic devices while driving.
Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?
You can definitely expect an increase on your car insurance premium after receiving a
distracted driving ticketin Pennsylvania. It’s hard to say how much it will go up because that depends on your insurance company, but there are averages to go by.
Here’s how the dollars and cents break down: a driver with a clean record in Pennsylvania typically spends $1,306 per year on car insurance. You’ll probably see an increase of $192 to $1,498 after a texting and driving conviction—a 15% price hike!
Safe driving is focused driving—keep your phone put away while in the car to avoid the temptation of texting and driving. If you’re looking to save some money on your car insurance, you can get a
safe driver discountas long as your record stays clean.
How to save money on car insurance in Pennsylvania
If you’re already paying too much for
car insurance, a texting and driving citation can cost you even more. The easiest way to avoid inflated rates, with or without a ticket, is with a pocket-sized comparison shopping expert insurance broker—one that fits in your phone!
Once you’ve come to a complete stop, download the
Jerryapp. You’ll have to answer some basic questions, but it’s a one-time thing and the most effort you’ll have to exert. Once Jerry has all the information it only takes 45 seconds to compile over 50 insurance companies’ most competitive quotes, all customized for you.
After you pick the best car insurance rate and coverage for you, Jerry takes over. We’ll handle the paperwork and even help you cancel your old policy. If you’d like to save $800+ a year like the average Jerry user, why wait? There’s no need to pay more for car insurance!
“I recently started looking for insurance. With my past ticket, I got rejected from several companies while others charged me extreme prices. My friend referred me toJerryand their amazing customer service helped me get the lowest insurance rate.” —Christina H.
awesome rewardsevery week, just for driving safe!”
Can you go to jail for texting and driving in Pennsylvania?
Yes. If you cause injury or death to another person while texting and driving, you will face two to five years in jail.
How serious is texting and driving?
According to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, texting and driving is
just as dangerousas drunk driving. It has the potential to seriously injure or even kill someone. No text thread is worth the risk.