Can Texting While Driving Lead to a Murder Charge

A teenage driver was texting a message to his friend when he crossed the middle line and hit the other driver. Although the incident was accidental, was the teenager’s reckless and willful act of writing text messages while driving in an uncontrolled manner enough to amount to criminal homicide.

The Massachusetts court convicted the teen for motor vehicle homicide through texting. The teenager was sentenced to the maximum punishment under Massachusetts law. Text messaging while driving has been made a crime in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Although penalties and details vary by state, there is one thing that is certain: States are making it a crime to send text messages while driving.

Although there are many other laws that could have been applied to punish text message users who cause accidents, the state legislatures sent a clear message by defining text messaging as a criminal act while driving. Even without these laws, if one driver swerved through traffic and struck another driver, they could face criminal charges for vehicular homicide and reckless driving. However, adding text messaging to the equation makes it clear that these states consider this activity as dangerous as drinking and driving.

Furthermore, texting while driving can lead to increased civil liability. Even if the driver is not charged criminally, it can be shown that they were sending text messages while driving. This could lead to increased judgments such as punitive damages.

Many mobile phone service providers now offer services that will disable your phone if it detects that your phone is in a vehicle. This is a good option for parents with young drivers. Parents can be held responsible for minor children’s actions. This means that if your teenager text messages and causes an accident, you may also be liable.

To help you in your case if you were the victim of a driver texting while driving and caused an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer. If you or someone you know is charged with causing an incident while text messaging, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This area of law is new and may not be well-tested in all jurisdictions. It could also require creative ways to challenge its elements.

Updated 01/19/22