We often hear stories of persons who are arrested on DUI charges (CA Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b)) that result in someone’s death or serious injury. However, California law enforcement officials have been cracking down on, not just driving while under the influence, but also driving while distracted. One recent example of this is the accident for his part in which 30-year-old Rohnert Park resident (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) has just been sentenced to 1 year in county jail. He ran into a car on Highway 12 and accidentally caused the death of two occupants in another car. It seems that he wasn’t texting or even talking on his cell phone. He says that he simply looked down for just a moment to check an incoming text message and didn’t see the other car. He was driving a GMC Sierra pickup truck at 53 miles per hour and the other vehicle was a Toyota Camry. He has also been given 3 years felony probation and been forced to pay upwards of $1 million in restitution to the family of the victims.
In this case, just a few moments of looking downward has changed his life forever. In California, ‘distracted driving’ laws place a ban on the use of hand held cellular phones or similar devices and on texting while driving (see Senate Bill 1310). This means not only jail time, but also a 3-year drivers license suspension and felony probation. While on probation, he will not be allowed to consume either drugs or alcohol and will even be banned from entering bars and other places where alcohol is the chief thing for sale. Violation of the terms of his probation will result in a 12 year and 4 month sentence in state prison.