Many of us know about the dangers of texting and driving. Yet, some motorists continue to text and drive.  It is a dangerous and illegal activity.  How many people know that you can be put in jail for texting and driving?

Under a new law called the “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law,” proof that a defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle may give rise to the presumption that the defendant was engaged in reckless driving.  Prosecutors are empowered to charge the offender with committing vehicular homicide or assault when such type of accident occurs from reckless driving.  Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.  Assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury occurs and a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury occurs.  A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.  The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

The new law is named after New Jersey residents who were killed or severely injured in a crash caused by someone using a handheld cell phone while driving.  Helen Kulash was crossing the street when she was killed by a driver illegally using a cell phone.  David and Linda Kubert are now amputees after a man who was texting crashed into their motorcycle.  Toni Bolis, nine months’ pregnant with her son, Ryan Jeffrey Bolis, was killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver using a cell phone.

According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, since 2008, over 10,000 drivers have been involved in crashes while using a cell phone.  A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that not only do people tend to answer the phone and keep driving, but 45% of the people polled hold the phone in their hand while driving.  When asked how they thought their own driving changed when sending text messages, 25% of the survey respondents said the distraction made no difference in their driving yet almost all of the men and women asked (86% of the men and 90% of the women) said they felt unsafe as a passenger in a car while the driver was sending a text message or email.

If you still think this cannot happen to you, think again.  In June 2012, an 18-year old man in Massachusetts was convicted of homicide for texting while driving, which led to a crash killing a 55-year old New Hampshire man.  The Massachusetts man is believed to be the first person in the country convicted of vehicular homicide for texting and driving.

Here at Stark & Stark we represent victims injured in car crashes every single day. If you or someone you know has been hurt because of someone who was texting and driving, contact us right away.  We can help you understand your options and protect your rights.  The person who caused the accident will have an insurance company defending their rights.  You need someone to stand up for you to work hard to make sure your rights are protected.  We do that every single day.  It’s who we are, and it’s what we do.