Driving can be an incredibly exciting feeling until it isn’t. You definitely want to avoid bad driving experiences and only have positive and rewarding ones. You can’t have these good experiences if you are on the wrong side of the law. So, let’s talk about every legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver. You’ll keep hefty fines and DUI lawyer fees at bay and avoid spending time in prison. So pay special attention.
1. Obey All Traffic Signs
The most obvious legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver is obeying all the traffic signs. There are myriad traffic signs on the road, and you might be familiar with some. In general, these signs are meant to control traffic flow, inform, and warn you about the road conditions and directions.
Failing to obey traffic signs (it’s tempting to think no one is watching) can result in severe accidents that claim lives. For instance, a study conducted by Marks and Harrison showed that about 51% of intense crushes at junctions controlled by signs were caused by drivers running red. This fact shows how important it is to observe all the road signs. Failure to obey the signs can attract a modest $238 fine, according to MM Traffic School, but if this disobedience causes an accident, it’s a different ballgame. Hence, you must obey them all the time.
2. Driving Without Glasses
Did you know driving without glasses is an offense? If you have eye problems like nearsightedness and see 01 in the box labeled 12 at the back of your license, you should never attempt to drive any vehicle without your glasses. The law requires you to correct your sight before driving your vehicle. Ignoring this requirement can put you in trouble. Besides, you risk causing accidents on the road. If caught, you will be prosecuted, fined, or even have your driving license canceled.
You want to avoid all these inconveniences, and this makes wearing glasses a legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver with eye defects. You should, however, note that being nearsighted isn’t a permanent condition. Your eyesight can change within six months. Therefore, you should have regular checkups to determine if you should keep using glasses.
3. Windshield Obstruction
A vehicle’s windshield helps you see the road clearly without worrying about interference from the elements. As such, keeping it free from obstruction is a legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver. This means avoiding any form of coverings (for instance, stickers, sunshades, or other hanging objects) that may impair your ability to see through the windshield and cause mishaps. Furthermore, such obstructions can tamper with the functioning of certain safety features, making it hard for you to drive.
For instance, coverings can impede the functioning of airbags and other collision avoidance features that rely on sensors and cameras mounted on your vehicle’s windshield. Consequently, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to respond to imminent dangers. Additionally, your windshield should also have no visible cracks, which can also lead to problems that can impair visibility and bring in water.
4. Hit and Run
As a responsible driver, you should be mindful of others on the road. In case of an accident, avoid hit and run, also referred to as failure to stop or report an accident. In simple terms, this offense involves causing accidents and then disappearing from the scene without taking any responsibility, like attending to the injured, calling the police/lawyer, contacting your insurance, and taking pictures of the scene. If you run, you can be held responsible for causing the accident, and depending on the seriousness of damages and injuries caused, you will be liable for paying medical bills and collision repair services.
Your insurance company may not come to your rescue since you didn’t contact them to provide details regarding the incident. That means you’ll settle the costs arising costs from your pocket. And if that’s not all, the insurance company may even terminate your policy.
In the worst case and depending on the applicable laws in your state, you might incur huge fines and imprisonment. For example, in California, you may face up to four years in jail and incur a penalty of up to $10,000. The exact amount and jail term will depend on the state you are in and the extent of damages and injuries. Considering all these, it’s evident that avoiding hit and run is vital legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver.
Yet another legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver is putting your driving speed in check. This means avoiding exceeding the recommended speed limit (which varies depending on the state and specific road). Unfortunately, this is one of the most overlooked driving rules.
Every driver ought to understand the consequences of driving at excessive speed. To begin with, overspending makes it hard for drivers to control their vehicles, and this can easily cause accidents. According to recent data by the NHTSA, 29% of traffic fatalities which claimed 12,330 lives were due to speeding in 2021 alone. Otherwise, you may end up in court with dire financial implications, including attorney fees.
With this in mind, driving at the recommended speed becomes imperative. And fortunately, it’s easy to do so. First, ensure you have speed governors installed in your vehicle. That way, the car will stop accelerating when you hit the maximum speed set on the speed governor.
Another proactive measure is leaving early. It allows you to have enough time to drive comfortably at your speed with no need to rush. Finally, you should also inspect your vehicle’s speedometer frequently to ensure its functioning. Otherwise, you will never know when you are overspeeding.
6. Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of any substance that can impair your judgment – for example, alcohol, Marijuana, and certain medications – is a dangerous endeavor that all drivers should avoid. Unfortunately, this is yet another vital rule many drivers tend to ignore.
When it comes to legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver, there is no mincing words about driving when intoxicated(DWI). Drunk driving kills. It will not only save your life but also the life of others. On top of this, it will give you a good reputation and possibly help you retain your job. Furthermore, it will help you avoid incurring penalties on your license and fines.
But in cases where you are using certain drugs and medications for health purposes (for example, marijuana), you might wonder whether you won’t have to drive your vehicle. The fact is, you can still operate the car, but you will need to present a certification from a reputable marijuana doctors office. Such certification will show the responsible legal authorities that you are under medication, and as such, they will not harass you on the roads. You will, however, need to demonstrate that you are able to drive properly under such medications. Otherwise, you might have to wait until you are done with the drug!
7. Property Damage
Still, looking for other legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver? Well, the next we got is that you must not destroy other people’s property when driving. Property damage includes damages to other vehicles, buildings, or other objects you hit while driving recklessly or in case of an accident. Whatever it is, you should be ready to cover repair or replacement costs and medical bills if the damaged properties result in accidents.
For instance, if you hit other people’s vehicles and damage them, you’ll take responsibility and notify your insurance company to make compensation. Similarly, you’ll need to pay fence installers in instances where you recklessly lose control and damage other people’s fences. With this in mind, you ought to be very keen on the roads – it benefits you and other road users plus their property.
8. Text and Driving
As someone who never wants to get into accidents, the next legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver is avoiding texting on your phone while driving. This is a very common behavior among many drivers and also one of the riskiest. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, texting while driving can reduce drivers’ concentration on the road by up to 37%, boosting the chances for costly mishaps. To make things even more serious. The same source also reported that texting while driving is up to 6 times more likely to lead to an accident than DUI!
What happens is that you get distracted so that you take your eyes off the road to concentrate on the phone, your hand off the wheel to the phone, and your mind off driving to the phone. This results in distractions, which ultimately lead to accidents and leave you needing the help of a car accident attorney. To avoid such distractions, avoid using your phone while riding.
One thing you can do is turn off your phone, block incoming texts/calls, or ask a trusted passenger to handle the phone for you. But if you are alone and must use the phone, then keep it in a safe place where you’ll notice it’s ringing and park off-road to text back or answer the call. You can also install an auto-responding app to notify your contacts that you are on a ride whenever they call.
9. Acting as an Accessory to a Crime
Our discussion on legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver can’t be termed complete if we didn’t talk about acting as an accessory to a crime. This means facilitating or helping someone commit a crime knowingly. For instance, when you help a thief drive away after committing thuggery. Under such conditions, you will be regarded as a criminal and will have to face the full force of the law.
To defend yourself, it’s imperative to outsource the services of a defense attorney. They will listen to your side of the story and will prepare to set you free. However, whether you’ll be freed or not depends on various factors like the extent of crime committed, level of involvement, and your state.
Supposing you were involved unknowingly or forcefully, then your attorney may defend you successfully. However, if you are at the center of the crime, setting yourself free may be uneasy! So always be cautious with what you do and who your passengers are.
10. Failing to Wear a Seatbelt
As a driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you and others in your vehicle wear seatbelts properly before you can begin any ride. But how do they really help? Well, let’s continue exploring.
First and foremost, seat belts play a very crucial role in saving lives, especially during collisions. They hold you in a seat so that you aren’t ejected out of the seat/ hit the interiors of your car when a collision or abrupt stop occurs. But just like any other part of your car, the seatbelt can wear over time, necessitating replacements. When this time knocks, please don’t hesitate to visit your nearby auto repair service to have the seatbelts fastened in place. The repairs will not only help you avoid legal suits, but they will also help reduce the risk of fatal injuries by up to 45%, as observed by the NTHSA.
There you go, the topmost legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver, which will help save lives and avoid damage to property on the roads. Familiarize yourself with each of these legal stuff to keep in mind as a driver, and you will have the best possible experience on the streets. But before you go, remember laws change and differ from state to state and road to road. So be conversant with the latest trends in the industry and always stay updated with laws in other states. Also, make sure you know the road conditions before driving – especially when driving on new roads. Safe drive!