One of the most surprising things I’ve learned this year while serving as President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association has been talking to car accident attorneys in other states and comparing what these other states are doing to stop texting while driving with what Michigan has done. In a word, Michigan has done nothing.
A first offense is a $100 fine, and all subsequent offenses are $200 fines. Under Michigan law, there is currently no possibility for suspension or license revocation. Michigan’s punishments for violating its texting and driving ban are just plain weak. They do not create any effective deterrent to stop people from choosing to send a text while they are driving at high speeds on the highway.
But other states are doing far more. Two other states in particular have taken bold steps to stop texting. These steps include imposing license suspensions and revocations on drivers who police catch texting while driving:
- New Mexico, license revocation or suspension
- Rhode Island, license suspension (30 days for 1st offense; 3 to 6 months for subsequent offenses)
As Rhode Island state Senator Susan Sosnowski said in a press release, which was quoted by LandLineMag.com, about her state’s penalty for texting while driving:
“A simple fine is not enough to deter a driver from texting while he or she is operating a vehicle. … The possible addition of a license suspension is a much more appropriate repercussion for such a dangerous practice.”
I could not agree more.
Sources for my texting week blogs:
- NHTSA: (http://www.distraction.gov/download/9511_DistractedDrivingDigest_051313_v2_tag.pdf)
- Mother Jones: (http://m.motherjones.com/media/2013/10/numbers-texting-and-driving)
New York Gov. Cuomo Press Release (5/31/2013): (https://www.governor.ny.gov/press/05312013-texting-while-driving)
- Land Line Magazine: (http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=25617#.UoQIAkgo7IU