There was an interesting article in the Washington Post today about proposals in Maryland for enhanced penalties for drivers who cause accidents that injure someone while texting or using a cell phone.
We think this is a good idea. As personal injury attorneys we see many cases of distracted driving causing accidents. In fact distracted driving seems to be the DWI of today and tomorrow. As a country we have done a pretty good job of raising awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. We have significant penalties in Virginia even for a first time conviction of a DWI offense. It's time that we increase the penalties for drivers who cause accidents while using their cell phone in any fashion.
Sure, there are a lot of "do not text and drive" campaigns out there but as far as I can tell from personal observation while driving these campaigns are of little or no effect. I'll bet that if we had mandatory jail time for first-time offense when a driver hurts someone while texting or using their cell phone that the word would get out. We also believe that punitive damages are to be available to anyone who is injured by a driver who causes an accident while using their cell phone.
I am a low regulation guy. But if you freely choose to get behind the wheel of a car and freely choose to pick up that phone while doing so your actions should be punished if you cause injury. Think about that.
Let us know what you think.