I'm burning mad. It takes a moment to pull over to read or respond to a text, to program your GPS, to dial the phone (should you not have voice command) yet people do it while their car is moving. And, more importantly, while other cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, cats and dogs are moving. And while buildings are stationary. Taking our eyes off the road seems harmless enough but it can cause injury and death.
In New Hampshire, 18 year old Aaron Deveau was sentenced to jail for vehicular manslaughter. He was convicted of causing an accident which never, ever would have happened had he been watching the road. Instead, he was texting his girlfriend. Now an innocent 55 year old grandfather has been taken from his family. His girlfriend was critically injured. And Aaron will spend, at most, one year in jail. And, oh yeah, his driver's license will be suspended for 15 years.
Representing injured people and the families of those who have been fatally injured is my passion. However, I'm even more passionate about preventing those injuries and deaths. Please watch the short video below. More importantly, please show it to young people who may not realize how texting, while driving, kills. In more general terms, "distracted driving" kills.
On September 23, 2008, 13-year-old Margay Schee was riding home from school when a semi-truck slammed into the back of her school bus. She was killed when rescuers were unable to get her out of the burning wreckage. The truck driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of crash and said he never saw the bus.
Margay's mother, Elissa Schee, is a founding board member of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
sound harmless but it is far from it!Sexting can land the sender in prison for a felony and can
cause that person to have to register as a sex offender for the rest
of his or her natural life!This is no
laughing matter and the powers-that-be (i.e. police and prosecutors) take
sexting very, very seriously.
exactly, is sexting? Well, according to Wikipedia, “Sexting is
the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between
Sexting is made a crime by Penal Code Section
288.2 which basically says that it’s a crime to send a message to a minor
if the message is intended to arouse or seduce the minor.This crime applies even if the sender is himself or herself a minor and that minor can be prosecuted!
Although we all
know that a minor in California
is defined as someone who is less than 18 years of age, click here to read www.sexlaws.org‘s interesting discussion of
California Statutory Rape.
are the consequences?Well, for starters
up to three years in prison.Then,
pursuant to California
Penal Code Section 290, someone convicted of Penal Code Section 288.2 shall
be required to register as a sex offender.For life!
Recent Arrests of Alleged Sexting Violators
ABC News: A Stockton student was arrested on suspicion of "sexting" - sending
inappropriate sexual material via text - to a minor, according to a
school district spokesperson.
The arrested teen was identified as Austin Butler, 18. "Apparently the evidence suggested that the texting back and forth had been sufficient to establish a pattern," said Lee.
CBS News: An accused serial sexter" is behind bars for allegedly harassing hundreds of women with offensive text messages.
Police say there are victims across California and at least two other states.
Steven Sharp, 30, was arrested at his home in Hayward, California after the Ione Police Department conducted a sting operation. A
police officer apparently posed as a 13-year-old girl, and in one week,
Sharp allegedly made 100 phone calls and sent 2,000 text messages to
Read about the real life dangers of sexting In Sexting and the Law (Part Two), coming soon.
If You, Or Someone You Know, Was Arrested for Sexting
Call For Your Free Consultation
Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger
your reaction when you see someone texting while driving or gabbing away on
with the cell phone to their ear while behind the wheel?Generally speaking, I don’t notice someone
engaged in these (or similar) activities unless I’m behind them waiting for
them to finally realize that the light has turned green and it’s their turn to
go.And, of course, it’s always a fun
challenge to avoid the car that just swerved into my lane because they’re
answering that all-important text message or e-mail.Oh, yeah, and the other day when a woman
pulled out of her parking space and made a u-turn right in front of me.Naturally, I understood her situation and
didn’t mind laying down skid marks to avoid t-boning her car because, after
all, she was engaged in what appeared to be a life-changing conversation with someone
on the other end of the cell phone that was glued to her ear.
The Responsibility Project: Liberty Mutual Insurance
Mutual Insurance has initiated the Responsibility Project which basically rails
against texting-while-driving.They ask "Are You Willing To Risk Lives Just So You Can Send a Text Message?: Their
video, No Phone Zone Day is, well to say the least, an excellent portrayal of
the dangers and horrors of texting-while-driving while not being in your face.
Even Oprah Winfrey has made a Public Service Announcement about not texting-while-driving
Teen Arraigned in Texting-While-Driving Hit-and-Run
Guilford (CT) teen arraigned in texting while
driving hit-and-run.I’m curious to
know what you think about this situation.The comments at the end of the article are pretty telling as to most
people’s sentiment.Apparently, this
young driver struck a pedestrian and her dog. He admitted to police that he was so engrossed
in his texting that he thought he merely hit a bush and continued on his merry
·Unnecessarily slowing down with sudden braking
(perhaps when they look up from their phone, they suddenly realize the car in front of them
has just stopped)
·Being stopped at stop sign with head down and no
hands on the steering wheel
One solution to the texting-while-driving
problem is Textecution which “kills
texting functions while driving…”The makers
of Textecution describe their
product: “Textecution™ is a user-friendly application that completely disables
texting while driving. Textecution™ is designed for parents to install on their
teenage driver's phone so they know their child is safer behind the wheel of
the vehicle. Add immediate peace of mind, security, and safety today with
Textecution™.(Rest assured I have no financial
stake in this product – I just found it on line today)
This could happen to you. Every disturbing, graphic car accident in this video could happen to you, to me, to any one of us or our loved ones. Pay attention on the road. One millisecond of inattention can change someone's life, and the lives of their loved ones, forever... and ever.
The original video was posted by Tanvir Ahmad on Facebook and, after some sniffing around on Youtube, I was able to find it. I've only been able to watch parts of it, it was too disturbing for me to watch in its entirety. You may be braver. I'd like your comments.
The message, though, is clear:
Don't drink and drive
Don't text and drive
Don't road rage
Be patient when driving
If You, Or Someone You Know, Was In an Accident
Call For Your Free Consultation
Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger
(323) 852-1100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting
(323) 852-1100 or (877) 487-8221 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
The unthinkable has finally happened - Susan Henwood appeared in court for a debtor's hearing in an effort to ask the judge to continue the hearing because her husband was sick and could not attend and she was sentenced for 30 days in jail for texting him the updates of the hearing!!! According to an article in the Journal of the American Bar Association
Susan Henwood, a mother of four, started serving the sentence in the Tooele County Jail on Monday, according to KSL.com.
Henwood’s husband, Joshua Henwood, told KSL that his wife went to court
to ask for a continuance in his case because he was sick and couldn’t
attend. He also asked her to keep him updated.
Susan Henwood sent two messages from the courtroom, according to the
story. The first read, "It doesn't look good for you." The second said,
"They're coming for the Polaris Ranger."
In California, in order to be jailed for contempt of court the following elements must be met: (1) the making of a valid court
order, (2) knowledge of the order by respondent, (3) ability of
the respondent to render compliance, and (4) willful disobedience
of the order. Warner v. Superior Court (1954) 126 Cal. App. 2d
I would imagine that the rules in Utah are similar and, if so, did Ms. Henwood's act of texting her husband as described above satisfy these elements? I think not. To start, there is nothing indicating that a valid order existed which means that elements 2-4 would be moot.
The judge let Ms. Henwood out of jail after only a few days ostensibly because she's a mother and her kids needed her, not because his ruling was wrong. Well, you be the judge.
As you know, I continually rail against texting while driving - that's a danger to the driver and everyone on the road. But texting in court? Do we leave our First Amendment Rights at the courtroom door?
Twitter is the new rage but where it's used can be outrageously dangerous. But wait! Before you think I'm anti-Twitter, please be sure that I am all for Twitter! I have a Twitter account with the screenname steigerlaw which, as of today, boasts 1,225 followers, and growing. And I'm following 1,800+ Twitterers as well (and growing). It's productive, addictive and fun. I keep my Twittering professional -- i.e., my Tweets (messages) are generally relevant to law related subjects save a few transgressions such as when I tout the Daily Puppy photo website because I'm a dog lover and think looking at puppy pictures is a great way to start the day.
For the uniniated, are you asking yourself "What the heck is Twitter?" Good question. Twitter is a social networking phenomenon that is best understood by plunging in and just twittering. It's free and easy. To take the blind plunge, click here. However, for a great explanation of Twitter, click here.
You Can Follow me on Twitter(but not while you're driving)
Okay, let me get to the heart of this post: What I fear with Twitter is the addiction that seems to be inherent in all social media today. We can't wait to respond to a Tweet (Twitter message). And now we can do it from our cell phones while driving! Naturally, I have no problem with someone sitting in front of their desktop or laptop 24 hours a day and tweeting themselves into oblivion. What I do have a problem with is the danger that we expose ourselves and other to when Tweeting while Driving. (See my prior posts on texting while driving) A typical tweet is up to 140 characters (maybe about 20 words give or take) and can have links to other websites. A person can get completely wrapped up in a tweet and wind up with a pedestrian as a hood ornament. Although my presentation here is tongue -in-cheek, being a lawyer who zealously and passionately represents injured people, I see the handwriting on the wall and it's not pretty. I'm not looking forward to a call from the daughter of an elderly pedestrian who was killed in a crosswalk because someone couldn't wait to get to their computer to respond to a Tweet.
According to a recent article entitled Fatal Distractions in the British publication Newspress, a study was conducted by the British insurance company Esure. The article states that according to that study, "nearly one in ten (nine per cent) motorists questioned are using mobile internet services and social networks whilst driving – to tweet, text and update their Facebook profiles."
The article reports the 10 top Tweets during the week prior to the article's publication:
“Driving with my knees and peeling an orange…Probably not the safest thing to be doing.”
“Driving school bus”
“Irresponsible twitter driving woo!”
“Driving up to Newcastle while we Tweet!”
“Driving home in the rain…almost crashed!”
“Trying my best to stay awake while driving”
“Awake, hungover, and driving”
“Is it wise to use Twitter while driving? Probably not”
“Intoxicated driving. Let’s hope this works out”
“Twittering and driving…”
And now it is rumored that the General Motors On-Star feature will interface with Twitter. According to the Technology Expert Blog
“While in your vehicle, you can use OnStar to submit and retrieve
tweets (messages) via your Twitter account. Using OnStar’s
Voice-Activated Hands-Free Calling system, and having your voice
converted into text, you can provide updates which would appear in the
'What are you doing?' section of your Twitter homepage. It is also
possible to listen to a tweet that was sent to you by someone else
after it has been converted into voice. You can send and receive tweets
without having to type or read anything.”
Finally, the Twittering While Driving phenomenon has gotten the attention of lawmakers. Here is a video clip of Democratic Tennessee Sen. Douglas Henry voicing (not Twittering) his opinion:
We all know how dangerous and annoying it is to text while driving. How about the person crawling in front of you at 10 miles per hour because they're "safely" texting. Don't think that this little stunt increases safety! Or the person so involved in their texting that they don't notice the car in front of them coming to a halt? Well, California has taken care of this issue once and for all (we hope). See video below.
This new law 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 in
California. Previously this was only illegal for individuals under 18
years of age, but now has been expanded to all drivers.