Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reason #208: No License For You

Adding more fuel to the fire of the nationwide ban on driving and texting that the NTSB proposed last year, an 18-year-old in Massachusetts today became the first person in that state to be convicted of "negligent operation while texting", in addition to motor vehicle homicide.

Two Februarys ago, the teenager, Aaron Deveau, crossed into ongoing traffic and ran head-on into 55-year-old Donald Bowley, Jr, severely injuring his passenger and eventually killing Bowley himself. While the prosecution failed to prove that Deveau had been texting at the exact moment of the crash, I think the 193 messages he sent--sent--that day, the last of which being roughly one minute before the crash, were sufficient evidence as to the cause of his distraction.

The jury agreed, and sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison (one more beyond time already served), a strangely-low forty hours of community service, and most appropriately, revoked his driver's license for fifteen years.

In keeping with my reaction to the Dharun Ravi hate-crime case, I think this is another good example of not over-punishing someone. At Deveau's age, an extended prison sentence could only be detrimental to his growth into a responsible adult, while the loss of his license will ensure that the accident is never far from his mind, and that he'll be unable to make the same mistake again for a long time.

Now, if they were to catch him driving without a license sometime in the next fifteen years, that's a different story.

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