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Good news for drunk driving, bad news for distracted driving

The state of Wisconsin has seen a dramatic decline in drunk driving deaths. Due to law enforcement efforts, education programs and criminal penalties during the last decade, deaths caused by drunk driving have decreased by 50 percent, believe it or not. However, there is a new kind of behavior that is increasing the total number of roadway fatalities: distracted driving.

Everyone knows that if you're drunk and you cause an injurious car accident, you could go to jail, but did you know that if you're texting-while-driving and you cause a deadly or injurious accident you could also go to jail? These days, law enforcement officers commonly check for evidence of cellphone usage following a catastrophic accident.

No social stigma attached to texting-while-driving

Seventy percent of Americans admit that they talk on their cellphones while operating their vehicles. Also, texting and using social media is an addictive compulsion. Many people cannot resist the urge to pick up their phones in Wisconsin, and this urge doesn't disappear while behind the wheel.

Most people don't view texting while driving as a crime. At one time, most people didn't see drunk driving as a crime either. However, with time, the horror of what drunk driving does to society has emerged, and now being charged with a DUI comes with a stigma.

One day, being charged with texting-while-driving will come with a stigma too, and that will be enough to prevent most people from doing it. Until that time comes, a large number of Wisconsin drivers will continue to engage in this unlawful behavior.

Defending against texting-while-driving charges

Due to the lack of social stigma, many who are charged with texting-while-driving in connection with a fatal or injurious crash are surprised by the potential punishments associated with the offense. These punishments are very real if a conviction occurs, so defendants will want to formulate their criminal defenses with care.

In some cases, accused persons may not have been using their phones, but their passengers were. In other cases, police may have incorrectly assumed that the driver was distracted by a cellphone. In still other situations, if the evidence against the accused driver is strong and a conviction is likely, seeking a plea bargain deal with the prosecution may be the most appropriate course of action.

 

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