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Massachusetts First Texting While Driving Trial in Haverhill Highlights Importance of Texting Ban

Earlier this week, the highly publicized texting-while-driving criminal trial in Haverhill District Court got underway. This is the first criminal case in Massachusetts to feature a charge of texting while operating a motor vehicle negligently and causing injury. The case stems from a February 2011 car accident in Haverhill in which one of the operators, Donald Bowley, was killed and his passenger girlfriend, Luz Roman, was seriously injured. The accident occurred after the defendant, teen driver Aaron Deveau, allegedly crossed the center line of traffic, after being distracted by text messaging.

If you or a loved one has been injured or wrongfully killed due to the negligence of another driver, the Boston personal injury lawyers at Bellotti Law Group can help you recover your losses. Call our Boston, Cambridge, or Quincy office today for a FREE evaluation of your claim at 617-225-2100. You can also use our safe and secure contact form and we will respond promptly.

The trial in Haverhill has featured emotional testimony from the deceased victim’s sister and the surviving victim, Luz Roman, girlfriend of the deceased Donald Bowley. Bowley’s family, including his three children, were also in attendance. Prosecutors are alleging that the teen exchanged a staggering193 texts on the day of the fatal car crash, including during the moments just before the accident. The defendant, who is now 18 years old (17 at the time of the accident), of Haverhill, is the first person in the state to be charged with texting while operating a motor vehicle negligently causing injury. If he is ultimately convicted, Deveau faces up to two years in jail. He is also charged with motor vehicle homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years.

While teens are the most likely offenders when it comes to texting behind the wheel, sadly, it is a common negligent practice amongst drivers of all ages. According to the National Safety Council, an alarming 1.6 million car crashes each year are attributed to cell phone use, including talking and texting while behind the wheel. They estimate that this translates into 3,000 fatalities annually and many thousands more serious injuries, including closed head trauma, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, broken bones, etc.

This common negligence has prompted lawmakers on the state and federal level to pass rigid laws regarding distracted driver and texting-while-driving in particular. Pursuant to federal law, truck and bus drivers are completely prohibited from texting while driving. Under Massachusetts state law, texting while driving is also completely forbidden. Massachusetts was the twenty-ninth state nationwide to enact the full ban, which prohibits texting, emailing, web surfing, and reading from handheld devices and laptops. Further, drivers under age 18 are banned entirely from cell phone use, including talking and texting, while driving. If a driver causes an accident while texting, as in this case, in Massachusetts, they may face criminal charges.

Texting while driving is reckless and dangerous, as this case demonstrates. If a texting-while-driving car accident results in a fatal accident, the offender may be sued for wrongful death. If a negligent driver is texting and causes property damage or an injury to another, the driver may also be sued for these damages. In short, the laws in Massachusetts and nationwide are stringent for a reason.

The Haverhill trial will continue on Monday, June 4 and the Boston personal injury attorneys at Bellotti Law Group will be following closely. Contact us today at 617-225-2100 for a FREE telephone consultation if your have been injured in a car accident or a loved one has been injured or wrongfully killed because of another driver’s negligence.