In this video, Attorney Ben Schwartz discusses the texting and driving laws in the U.K. as compared to the laws in certain states in the U.S.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.
I was reading an article in The Telegraph, an online news website in the UK. The article was titled: “Drivers who kill while on mobile phones will face life sentences.”
There’s a proposed law in the U.K. that says that if you are driving and talking on your cell phone or you are texting on a cell phone and not paying attention, you’re distracted. You let yourself become distracted by the cell phone. If you cause an accident and kill someone, you could be sentenced to prison for life.
I read this article and found it surprising because I handle a lot of car accident cases in Delaware and Maryland. Our law firm also handles car accident cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (we are in the mid-Atlantic region of the US). In the states where we practice, texting and driving laws do not have severe consequences. You may end up causing an accident. We see accident cases all the time that are caused by distracted drivers who are doing these very things; the penalties they receive are typically a fine of a couple of hundred dollars. I can’t really think of anyone who’s actually seen the inside of a jail cell.
In our current culture in the United States, there are no real legal criminal legal jail sentences for this. Texting and driving laws are very different here. It’s outside the range of what we do in this country. I was thinking about it, so I’m wondering: what is the purpose? What’s the main purpose of having criminal laws that put people in jail? The main purpose is to segregate dangerous criminals from the rest of us so that members of society can be safe. So, we put rapists in prison for life. We put murderers in prison for life. We don’t want those criminals murdering and raping innocent people. We want our society to be safer. Texting and driving, causing injuries and death out on the roadways are much more common than raping, murdering and creating an unsafe society.
Why don’t we treat these people similarly? If we’re taking murderers and rapists off the streets, why are we not taking distracted drivers off the streets? I’m not saying this is my position. It’s something I’m just thinking about. I wonder what other people out there in the community think about texting and driving laws that cause car accidents and wrongful death. If we don’t have a law that sentences people to life in prison for causing death when they’re distracted driving, even if it’s not that extreme, should we have a law that says you go to jail if you’re texting and driving and you kill somebody? I mean should we have something more than a law that simply says you’re going to get a fine of $185?
Let me know what you think!