Texting While Driving and The Fifth Amendment

Currently, in the State of Arkansas, it is illegal to create, send, or read a text message or email while operating a motor vehicle, and if you are under eighteen (18) years of age or in a school or work zone, even using a cell phone is illegal while operating a motor vehicle.

However, I am willing to bet that such a law does not stop most people from sending a quick text or writing an email while on the road. A problem arises when a driver is stopped for an infraction of the texting law. In most situations, the Fifth Amendment can operate to prevent you from being charged with or convicted of a violation the texting law.

It is important, at this point, to note how law enforcement’s actions and your cell phone will come into play. Most likely, the police will ask to see your cell phone. You should refuse. If law enforcement insists, do not fight. Instead, tell them that by giving them your cell phone you are neither consenting to a search nor waiving your Fifth Amendment rights.

The Fifth Amendment protects you from self incrimination. This means that the Fifth Amendment prevents the government from forcing you to make a statement or admission. In texting while driving situations, the Fifth Amendment can be used in two methods.

First, your actual cell phone can be a record of your own words or admissions that you were making prior to the stop by law enforcement. Essentially, the government’s use of your cell phone is using a record of your communications to convict you. This is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment.

The second method, and the one advocated by our firm, is to place a password lock on your phone. If law enforcement demands the password to your phone, then the police have asked you to incriminate yourself. You should always refuse to give such information.

If you find yourself charged with a violation of the texting while driving statute, The Lancaster Law Firm is here to help. Our attorneys know how to use the Fifth Amendment to protect your legal rights. Do not wait. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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