According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a young woman struck and killed a young man on East Johnson Street in Madison in October 2010. The collision happened just after noon after the young man stopped his car and had his hazards on. According to the WSJ story, the defendant told police she slammed on her brakes but there was no evidence at the scene of braking. Also mentioned in the story was the fact the the young woman's phone showed three (3) text messages were sent just before the time of the collision.
Texting and driving is becoming very popular. It seems every time I am at a red light and oftentimes whilst passing or getting passed by another driver-that person is texting. While Wisconsin does have a new texting law-enforcement is next to impossible. Since it is not illegal to dial a phone, it is difficult to prove that someone is texting and not just turning on their phone or dialing etc.
While there is nothing postive about texting while driving-people injured by drivers can often obtain the driver's phone records. Unlike a lot of other evidence that may be subject to multiple interpretations, text records showing exact times are very probative of negligence and in the case above even lead to felony homicide charges.
The lesson-don't text behind the wheel. You could kill someone and go to prison for up to 10 years.
Wisconsin Homicide by Negligent Use of a Motor Vehicle: Wis. Stat. 940.10(1)
(1) Whoever causes the death of another human being by the negligent operation or handling of a vehicle is guilty of a Class G felony.
To prove the above charge, the State will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
2. The defendant operated a motor vehcile in a manner that constituted criminal negligence;
3. The defendant's criminal negligence caused the death of the decedent
Criminal negligence means:
1. The defendant's operation of a vehicle created a risk of death or great bodily injury;
2. The risk of death or GBI was substantial and unreasonable;
3. Drive should have been aware that his/her operation of a vehicle created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or GBI.