A Wisconsin man convicted of causing a fatal accident is looking at 10 years in prison, possibly the toughest sentence ever handed out for texting while driving. The 23 year-old was convicted 2nd degree reckless homicide for causing a December, 2012 crash that killed one man in Wood County. The young man admitted to police that he was texting his girlfriend and trying to respond to numerous other text messages when he blew through a “Stop” sign and struck another vehicle. The impact bounced his car into a third car with such force that the seat-belted driver was ejected and died on the scene.
The Wood County Assistant District Attorney says this is the harshest penalty ever issued in a texting while driving case, and not just in Wisconsin but nationwide. Beside the 10 year stretch in prison, the defendant will spend seven years on supervised probation. The sentence was longer that prosecutors had asked for, and the judge may have based his decision on the driver’s less-than-perfect record. The 23 year-old had convictions for driving without a license and another felony. Emotional testimony from the victim’s family before sentencing probably helped make up the judge’s mind as well.
Just six days before the wreck, Wisconsin’s new law banning texting while driving took effect. The law was well publicized before, during and after the legislature acted. But regardless of whether it is legal or not, texting behind the wheel invites disaster. At 60 MPH, a car will travel almost 200 feet during a two-second glance at a smartphone. A moment’s inattention, in this case, ruined two lives; one temporarily, one forever.
Source: WSAW-TV, “Driver in fatal texting crash to spend 10 years behind bars,” Al Knox, Nov. 12, 2012