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Teen Sentenced to Jail for Texting and Driving

A Massachusetts teenager was sentenced Wednesday to spend a year in jail for a fatal traffic accident that happened while he was texting.
Person using cell phone while driving.
Person using cell phone while driving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aaron Deveau of Haverhill was sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars with a year to serve and the remainder suspended for the February 2011 crash that took the life of Donald Bowley Jr., 55, of Danville, N.H., and seriously injured Bowley’s girlfriend.  Prosecutors say the then-17-year-old high school student sent 193 text messages the day of the crash, including some just a minute or so before impact and dozens more after it.

It took the jury less than four hours of deliberation to find Deveau guilty on two counts: vehicular homicide and texting while driving.  The Judge sentenced Deveau to two and a half years imprisonment on the former charge and two on the latter, though the sentence was ultimately reduced to one year in jail, three years of probation, the loss of Deveau’s driver’s license for 15 years, and a monetary sum that has yet to be determined.
While citations under Massachusetts’ anti-texting law are fairly common, this is the first time in the state’s history that anyone has been convicted of vehicular homicide while texting.
California has a law specifically banning texting while driving.  The Wireless Communications Device Law took effect in January 1, 2009 and makes it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle.  The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.
The Wireless Communications Device Law actually followed two additional laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving that went on the books in 2008.  The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] §23123).  Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device.  The second law effective July 1, 2008, prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).
California is one of 39 states with laws against texting while driving, and one of 10 with laws against using hand-held phones.
  • Drivers 18 and over are allowed to use a “hands-free” device to talk on their wireless telephone while driving. 
  • The law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.
  • It is legal to use a Bluetooth or other earpiece, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.
  • The “hands-free” law allows you to use the speaker phone functions of your wireless telephone while driving as long as you are not holding the phone. 
  • The “hands-free” law DOES NOT allow divers 18 and over to text message while driving.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even “hands-free.” EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire, or medical authorities (VC §23124).
  • The law stricter for provisional drivers because statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless devices, which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 may not use the hands-free feature while driving even if the car has the feature built in.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/08/4547098/authorities-to-launch-campaign.html#storylink=cpy
If you received a citation for texting while driving, the experienced Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
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