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Cell Phone Use Behind the Wheel

Cell Phone Use Behind the Wheel

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving contributed to 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries nationwide in 2015. In response to this danger, many states have passed laws regulating cell phone use while driving. Nevada followed suit in 2011.

Handheld cell phone use while driving is illegal in Nevada

NRS 484B.165 regulates the use of handheld devices while driving in the state. The law makes it a misdemeanor to text, talk, or use data services on a handheld wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle. A violation results in a fine: $50 for a first offense, up to $250 for repeat offenders.

The law provides a range of specific exceptions for when handheld phone use is not a crime. These include:

  • Use by first responders (police, firefighters, EMS) acting within the course and scope of their employment.
  • Use to report or request assistance with a medical emergency, safety hazard, or criminal activity.
  • Any use that is responding to a situation requiring immediate action to protect the health, welfare, or safety of the driver or another person, where stopping the vehicle would be inadvisable, impractical, or dangerous.
  • Use by licensed amateur radio operators in connection with a disaster or emergency, or a training exercise to prepare for a disaster or emergency.
  • An employee of a public utility who is using a utility-provided device and is responding to an emergency, including a power outage.

Unlawful cell phone use and personal injury lawsuits

A violation of NRS 484B.165 can be more than just a misdemeanor. The law’s purpose is to prevent unsafe behavior behind the wheel. A violation can be a significant factor in a personal injury lawsuit brought against a driver who causes an accident while distracted by a cell phone or other device in violation of the law.

Negligence per se is a legal rule that injured plaintiffs can use to create a presumption of liability against the defendant. It applies where the defendant violated a statute like NRS 484B.165, and the violation was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Barnes v. Delta Lines, 99 Nev. 688, 690 (1983). The rule may apply where a defendant’s cell phone records show that the phone was in use at the time of the accident and no hands-free device was in use. The causation question will depend on the facts of the case, but in cases of distracted driving can often be shown by the nature of the accident.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured in a car accident and have questions about how to pursue your case, our attorneys are available to help. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.