Many states are struggling with writing new laws to ban texting while driving. And with studies showing that texting is significantly more dangerous than drunk driving, getting the law right is a public safety and law enforcement challenge.And the dangers are all too real, as is demonstrated in this article from the Central Michigan Morning Sun. The victim in this case, a retired police officer, was hit by a driver who was texting at the time, resulting in serious injuries, head trauma, memory loss, a 2 week hospital stay, titanium plates, and extensive phyiscal therapy.
All from a distracted driver, who wasn’t speeding or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The driver was originally charged with felony driving, a more serious form of reckless driving that indicates wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others on the road. A felony operation of a vehicle charge can result in up to 2 years in prison if found guilty.
The victim in this case was not interested in pushing for this serious charge, and the driver who hit him was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor reckless driving offense, and did end up serving 6 days in jail. He also must complete community service that includes speaking to high school students about the dangers of driving while texting.
Michigan Driving While Texting Laws
Michigan does not currently have a specific law against driving while texting. Many states are adding civil penalties for texting, similar to a traffic citation for speeding or other infractions. And for serious incidents, if the texting is deems to be reckless, you can certainly be charged with a criminal reckless driving charge.
The US Department of Transportation is seriously considering requiring all states to ban and penalize texting and driving as a condition of receiving federal highway funds.
But no matter what the law, the danger of all distractions that take your eyes off the road: texting, playing with your GPS navigation, or any other device that distracts your attention from the act of driving, are real and dangerous.