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Criminal punishment must catch up to dangers of texting while driving

December 18, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

It’s time to make the punishments for texting while driving match the seriousness of drinking and driving

texting while driving

Yesterday I reviewed the scientific studies that have been done showing that texting while driving is as dangerous – if not more dangerous – than drinking and driving. Yet Michigan treats and punishes these two threats to public safety very differently.

The maximum penalty for texting while driving is limited to a measly $100 for a first violation and $200 for a second or subsequent violation. No jail time. No responsibility fee. No points on a person’s driving record. And, no driver’s license suspensions. (MCL 257.602b(3); MCL 257.320a(2)

Yet drunk driving in Michigan is punished with jail time, big time fines and responsibility fees, points on the license and license suspensions. (See MCL 257.625; 257.320a(1)(c); 257.319(8)(a); 257.732a(2)(a)(iii))

Why is there a double standard under Michigan law for texting and driving?

As an auto accident attorney, I’ve seen the havoc that texting and driving is causing on Michigan roads. It is a far more prevalent threat to the public safety than drinking and driving today, and the science shows it is just as deadly.  Yet police officers in my own cases rarely check to see if the at-fault driver who causes a car accident was texting and driving in the moments before impact.

Given the seriousness and the deadly threat  posed by texting drivers,  it would seem only reasonable that the same sanctions that apply in drunk driving cases should be incorporated to when people are texting while driving.

A tale of two crimes: How how the punishment for texting is different than drinking and driving

Here is how the two crimes are treated under Michigan law today :

Penalties texting while driving MichiganStay tuned until next week, when we will run a series of blogs comparing the penalties for texting while driving in Michigan to the more harsh punishments in other states.

Related information:

Why doesn’t Michigan treat texting while driving like drunk driving?

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