A couple of weeks ago, we asked the question, "If you text someone who's driving, can you go to jail if he crashes?"
By and large, you all said that the sender of that text message shouldn't be held liable. The judge in that New Jersey case agreed.
But in Massachusetts, a case came to court with much less gray area. And it should serve as a reminder that America's growing number of anti-texting laws have consequences for those who disobey them.
On February 20, 2011, a car driven by high schooler Aaron Deveau crashed into a vehicle driven by Donald Bowley. Bowley was killed, and his girlfriend was seriously injured.
Deveau claimed that he was tired from working that day and was distracted by worries about his homework. However, the prosecution produced phone records showing that Deveau was texting moments before the collision.
It took the jury less than four hours of deliberation to find Deveau -- now 18 -- guilty on two counts: vehicular homicide and texting while driving. Judge Stephen Abany 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.
Will Deveau's sentence make drivers think twice before texting? Did Abany send a strong message, or will drivers need something else to break them of the habit? Let us know your thoughts via email or in the comments below.
(c) 2012, High Gear Media.