The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

Consequences for Distracted Drivers: Death and Lawsuits?

While waiting for a stoplight to turn green, you hear the enticing chime from your cell phone. It may seem like just a second, but checking your text message may lead to repercussions that you and other distracted drivers will have to deal with for the rest of your lives.

In the city of Glendale, for instance, 20-year-old Ani Voskanian demonstrated the dangers of texting while driving when she was sentenced to three years of probation for gross vehicle manslaughter in August after she caused the death of an elderly pedestrian. The increased amount of distracted driving incidences in the town prompted the mayor to claim it was suffering from a "distracted driver epidemic."

In addition to texting while driving, distracted driving can include any activity which diverts your attention from driving, such as reading a book, eating, and applying makeup while operating a vehicle. In any situation, the consequences for not focusing 100% on the act of driving can be serious.

Under California law, all drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving and cannot text while driving. Officers may also cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

In addition to traffic tickets and hefty fines, distracted driving can subject you to lawsuits and criminal charges if you injure someone due to your distracted driving. As in the case of Voskanian, you may be charged with manslaughter or murder depending on the degree of reckless you exhibit. Distracted driving can also open you up to lawsuits, increasing with the likelihood that your negligence was responsible for the damages caused to the injured party.

In Voskanian's case, she was very lucky she wasn't sentenced to jail for her part in the death of the pedestrian due to the dangers of texting while driving. Other distracted drivers may not be so lucky now that cities are more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and deciding to not check your text message could very well save your life. Or someone else's.

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