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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Drive While Texting, Go To Jail? l Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

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Driving while texting (DWT) is all too common on Washington roads.  It's been illegal for over a year now, but the new law does not seem to have stopped the countless drivers I see texting while driving every week.  These texting drivers are distracted and dangerous.

Texting while driving has been shown in studies to be as bad as driving drunk.  When you're thumb is pounding out that text, your level of distraction is as if you were drunk with a 0.08 BAC.  Scary right?  

Given this shouldn't the same penalties for DUI apply to DWT?  One of the mandatory penalties for a first offense DUI in Washington is a minimum of one day in jail with a maximum of one year in jail.  Another mandatory DUI penalty is the loss of your driver's license for 90 days.  The current penalty for DWT in Washington is a fine of $101.00, that's it.  Does this make sense?

Serious injuries often result from Washington car accidents caused by texting drivers.  What if a semi-truck or other large commercial truck driver was distracted by texting, the resulting accident could be catastrophic.  According to the NHTSA in 2008 nearly 6,000 people died in U.S. car accidents involving distracted drivers.  Perhaps a day or two in jail or temporary loss of driver's license will be enough to deter drivers and make them take the danger posed by texting seriously.  In my opinion the danger posed by distracted drivers justifies increased penalties for DWT.

Alaska has already taken this step as have India and Malaysia.  Alaska's DWT law imposes the same penalties as its first offense DUI.  Alaska's DWT law is fairly new, so it's too early to know if it has reduced the number of accidents caused by DWT.  I'm sure many states will be watching intently.

In the fatal accidents caused by DWT prosecutors are already pursuing jail time.  In case after case we are seeing serious criminal charges being filed fatality car accidents involving DWT.  If you cause a car accident that results in someone being killed and the cause of the accident was your texting while driving, Lord help you.  The trend is towards harsher and harsher punishments including longer and longer jail sentences.

Do yourself and other drivers a favor, turn off your cell phone when you drive.  If everyone did that we could save thousands of lives each year in the U.S. alone.

Safe driving!

Max Meyers, Esq.

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