New Jersey Now Prosecutes Texting While Driving as Drunk Driving, Sending Woman to Jail for Up to 10 Years
In sentencing a New Jersey driver to five to 10 years in prison for causing a fatal accident while texting on the phone, prosecutors in the state have sent a warning to all New Jersey drivers tempted by their mobile phones. Specifically, jurors found a woman guilty of second-degree vehicular homicide. In 2016, she rear-ended a vehicle that was stopped in front of the crosswalk while texting, and, in hitting that car, pushed the car into hitting a pedestrian, who died from injuries. Investigators determined that she was texting by allegedly locating evidence on her phone and elsewhere, although the driver maintains her innocence, claiming that she was actually trying to activate her rear defroster.
According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor who brought the case, this is one of the first cases in the state to solely rely on cell phone use while driving to establish recklessness in a vehicular homicide case. Investigators also argued that there were no skid marks to show any attempt on her part to brake. It is also the first time the 2012 state law that treats texting drivers the same as drunk drivers has been used in court. The driver will be required to serve 85 percent of her sentence before she is eligible for parole and, according to the prosecutor, this is just the beginning of New Jersey bringing charges like these.
New Jersey One of the Few States That Treats Traffic Violation This Harshly
New Jersey is one of several states with laws that link vehicle-related deaths to drivers using wireless devices. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, mobile phones were implicated in more than 400 of the total 3,166 distraction-related fatalities. Still, while texting and driving is banned most-everywhere, most state laws still treat it as a misdemeanor; punishable by a fine. In fact, it is rare to have any prosecutions at all in distracted driving cases. New Jersey is one of the few that is moving closer to treating it as an offense on par with drunk driving.
The driver remains free until sentencing in January. As noted by those there to support her, there is no question that she is being incarcerated for engaging in something that we all do on a daily basis.
If You Are Facing Charges in New Jersey, Work with The Very Best in Criminal Defense
If you have been accused of reckless driving or any related charges, such as a DWI or vehicular homicide, contact our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the office of Phillip J. Murphy today to find out how we can provide you with the very best legal guidance and assistance with your case.