Which Traffic Laws are Different by State?

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Each state’s traffic laws can be found in the state’s vehicle code, the state’s criminal code or the state’s penal code.  Every state has its own set of traffic laws, meaning the laws may be worded differently or carries harsher or lesser penalties than another state’s traffic laws. However, most states have essentially the same traffic laws, with a few variations.

Driving While Intoxicated

All states have laws regarding the use of alcohol and drugs while operating a motor vehicle, otherwise known as driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated laws.  Recently, most states agree that a driver with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of .08 or higher is per se legally intoxicated.  However, some states charge offenders that have an extremely high BAC at the time of the offense, for instance .15 or above, with an enhanced penalty carrying with it harsher penalties and the possibility of mandatory jail time. 

Speed Limit

Each state sets its own speed limits.  Therefore, the speed limit on a highway can differ according to which state you are driving through.  The speed limit on the highway in most states is now 65 miles per hour.  However, be on the lookout for signs posted indicating higher or lower speed limits. In addition, some states strictly enforce the posted speed limit and you will be cited for driving over the posted limit.  Additionally, some states impose harsher fines for speeding in road construction areas. 

Driving While Using a Cell Phone

It is now against the law in some states to hold your cell phone to your ear and talk while driving.  Currently eight states allow drivers to use a cell phone as long as the driver is using a hands free device, like a blue tooth.  Fines for talking on a cell phone while driving differ by state but expect your fine for a second offense to more than double your first fine.  In addition, a majority of states ban the use of any cell phone device by beginning drivers even if they are using a hands free device.  Many states also ban text messaging while driving.    

Getting Legal Help

If you have been cited for violating a traffic law, contact a criminal attorney in the state you received the ticket as soon as possible.  An experienced criminal attorney can review your case and help you contest the violation.

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