The New York Criminal Law Blog

Texting While Driving Results in Death, Court Ordered Talking

People in New York are rightly a little irritated right now. Back in 2010, a 19-year-old Nechama Rothberger was driving along when she had to send an all-important text. Mid-text, however, she was interrupted by Tian Sheng Lin, the guy that she just ran over, reports the Gothamist.

Her traffic incident was the inspiration behind last July's change in law that now allows police officers to pull over texters as a primary offense. Previously, it had to be coupled with something "more serious" like speeding.

Well, after a long pre-trial process, Rothberger's case finally came to a resolution yesterday. She agreed to a plea bargain that mandates no jail time.

She will, however, have to complete 100 hours of community service, talking to teens about the dangers of texting while driving.

The Gothamist's response cannot be more well put:

"See kids, you should always keep your eyes on the road, because if you carelessly kill someone, your punishment may involve public speaking."

She'll also be on probation for five years, but at least now, Siri exists to do the texting for her.

The sentence may have been affected by a separate civil settlement between the dead man's family and the distracted driver. The New York Daily News is reporting that the family consented to the plea and may have a settlement in place soon for seven figures.

So, it was an expensive text. And she'll have to talk to others about texting. One does wonder what's worse: paying more than a million dollars or spending a year in jail, as this Massachusetts teen will do after engaging in the exact same idiotic conduct.

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