The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

September 12, 2013

If you text a driver who causes an accident, should you be held liable?

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The sender should be able to assume that the recipient will read a text message only when it is safe and legal to do so, that is, when not operating a vehicle. However, if the sender knows that the recipient is both driving and will read the text immediately, then the sender has taken a foreseeable risk in sending a text at that time. The sender has knowingly engaged in distracting conduct, and it is not unfair also to hold the sender responsible for the distraction.

This was a civil case, and by "hold the sender responsible," the appellate judges were talking about civil penalties, not criminal ones. But as Darren Gelber noted on Jersey Justice Monitor, it's not hard to imagine how this decision might affect criminal prosecutions. A prosecutor looking to make a name for himself could theoretically use the appellate court's logic to justify charging somebody like Shannon Colonna as an accessory to reckless driving. Would that charge actually stand? Who knows. But it would get a lot of attention, and would make clear that New Jersey takes distracted driving very, very seriously.

This is a controversial decision _for one thing, it's hard to see how a sender can be expected to know that the recipient will read the message immediately, unless the message is something like READ THIS IMMEDIATELY, EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE DRIVING: LOL! — and it may well be appealed to the state Supreme Court. And as Gelber noted, a New Jersey state lawmaker has already announced that she will introduce a bill that would prevent texters in Shannon Colonna's position from being sued for their actions. For now, though, you're courting a possible lawsuit if you text someone who's driving in New Jersey.

Peters writes Slate's crime blog. @slatecrime.

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Revolver goes for $400 at auction CLINTON — Selling in two locations on June 21 proved to be a winner. I was selling in the first location with my son Jon and we had a strong bidding crowd. The second location had Jeff Lohr and Bill McWilliams holding firm with a nice crowd of bidder

    July 19, 2014

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sawmill New event cruises into Clinton CLINTON — Three Gateway-area locations are joining together in August for a river heritage event.The event will be held Aug. 3 and will feature a Blue Heron river cruise, a Sawmill Museum tour and a de Immigrant Windmill tour in Fulton, Illinois. The

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Minnick Ashford director appointed to commission CLINTON —The Ashford University campus director has been appointed to a volunteer commission.Charlie Minnick, vice president/campus director of Ashford University, has been appointed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Ser

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Summer lunch menus (July 21 to 25)

    Summer lunch menus at Jefferson and Bluff Elementary Schools, and Generations Area Agency on Aging

    July 17, 2014

  • Ax throw, log climb at Adirondack lumberjack class PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. — Ax throwing is encouraged in lumberjack class. It’s also OK to dump your classmate in the lake — as long as you’re both frantically trying to stay upright on a floating log.The annual Adirondack Woodsmen’s School is being held thi

    July 17, 2014

  • Locally-grown foods look to bigger business

    Once a niche business, locally grown foods aren't just for farmers markets anymore.

    July 16, 2014

  • What happens to your online accounts when you die?

    You've probably decided who gets the house or that family heirloom up in the attic when you die. But what about your email account and all those photos stored online?

    July 16, 2014

  • Plenty of collectibles available at auction CLINTON — A nice walnut table hit a high mark of $95 at a recent auction. A small chest freeze sold for $82.50 and the electric stove heated up for $85. A window air conditioner kept everyone cool with a bid of $45, lawn chairs sold for $20, the Plan

    July 12, 2014

  • Talent show Fair to display talent show DEWITT — Children and adults next weekend in DeWitt will compete for an opportunity to participate in the Iowa State Fair.The Bill Riley Talent Search will be held at 2 p.m. July 20 at the Clinton County Fair in DeWitt. The show is open to the public

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.