Connecticut Distracted Driving Laws
- Handheld ban for all drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary Law).
Connecticut’s Texting While Driving Stand
In 2011, Connecticut continued increased fines associated with violation of the state’s distracted driving laws. These laws include using handheld cell phones while driving and text messaging while driving. As of July 1, 2011, a first-time offense will set a driver back $125, while second and third offenses will cost a driver $250 and $400 respectively.
This was Connecticut’s second move in a year to increase the penalties associated with distracted driving. In 2010, Connecticut did away with forgiveness for first-time offenders altogether, increasing penalties from $100 to $125 for a first-time offense, and $150 and $200 for second and third offenses.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 16 percent of all fatal traffic accidents nationwide that occurred in 2008 were related in some way too distracted driving. That’s a significant increase over 2007’s 12 percent distracted driving mortality rate, giving a reason to Connecticut and other state’s concern with toughening distracted driving laws.
In 2006, Connecticut became one of the earliest states to ban handheld cell phones and texting while driving. Today, talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is against the law in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and text messaging while driving is against the law in 35 states plus the District of Columbia. Many localities have laws banning drivers from talking or texting on hand-held cell phones as well.
No additional distracted driver legislation was pending for vote in front of Connecticut’s General Assembly as of the start of the legislative season on February 8, 2012. A number of House and Senate bills from 2011, however, are still on the floor.
Since October 2005 when Connecticut first enacted HB 6722 banning cell phone usage while driving, male drivers have been the most common violators of the law. Connecticut male drivers have received between 52 and 54 percent of all citations related to, despite the fact that they comprise fewer than half the drivers in the state of Connecticut.
A 2012 study conducted by the Associated Press, analyzing the enforcement of Connecticut’s distracted driving laws, reported that in 2011 male drivers received 16,000 citations for unlawful texting and cell phone use, while female drivers received 13,690 citations. Insurance industry experts speculate the discrepancy may be due to the fact that males are more likely to engage in risk-taking activities. Towns like Greenwich on the New York border are the places where the highest numbers of distracted driving citations are issued.
Local communities are becoming more aggressive about enforcing distracted driving laws. between January 1 and March 4, 2011, Hartford law officers, working with the assistance of the federal Department of Transportation, handed out 7,200 tickets for unlawful cell phone use while driving. In New Canaan, law officers cited more than 150 drivers for cell phone use between June and September 2010. New Canaan officials are said to be reviewing the feasibility of confiscating these violators’ cell phones as part of the penalty for violating distracted driving statutes.
Connecticut bans the use of handheld cell phones or mobile electronic devices for any purpose for all drivers. Fines are $125 for first offenses, $250 and $400 for second and third offenses respectively. Connecticut drivers age 18 and over may use hands-free devices while talking on cell phones or other mobile electronic devices. Drivers under the age of 18 may not use either handheld or hands-free devices to talk while driving. Penalties for violating this ban include possible license suspension.
Texting while driving is not permitted for any Connecticut driver. Fines are $125 for first offenses, $250 and $400 for second and third offenses respectively. All Connecticut drivers are banned from using DVD players or video game players while driving. Connecticut bans the use of handheld cell phones or mobile electronic devices for all school bus drivers.