15 Years, 30 Days
I was intrigued by two recent news items.
One, from Utah:
Calling texting while driving a crime, a judge Tuesday ordered a Tremonton man to spend 30 days in the Cache County jail as part of his sentence for two counts of negligent homicide.
Reggie Shaw was 19 when his Chevy Tahoe veered into oncoming traffic on State Road 30 near Logan, causing the deaths of Cache Valley residents Jim Furfaro, 38, of Logan and Keith O’Dell, 50, of North Logan.
Though Shaw told Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Bart Rindlisbacher at the scene on Sept. 22, 2006, that he had not been texting, subpoenaed cell phone records show Shaw and a friend exchanged 11 text messages in the moments before the accident, according to Cache County Prosecutor Don Linton.
[as an aside, note the passive tense here, rather common in newspaper reporting: it was his Tahoe 'that veered,' deaths 'were caused.' Not, 'he swerved, killing the two drivers.']
Another, via the Washington Post:
A Woodbridge man who drove the wrong way, drunk, on Route 1 last year and slammed head-on into another car at 96 mph, killing the driver, was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday by a Fairfax County judge.
[less passive tense here...]
We have here two cases of driving in the presence of activities shown to cause impairment. In both cases, people died. Yet the sentencing gulf between the two cases is huge. One obvious difference is that texting while driving has yet to be made an actual crime (though I predict it increasingly will be), and I imagine this must influence the sentencing; I am not sure what the usual sentence is for “negligent homicide” — but then again, isn’t a DUI-caused fatality also a “negligent homicide”? How would we feel about a 30-day sentence with some community service for a drunk driver who killed two people? Perhaps the ages of both perpetrators also came into play. But one has to wonder about the major discrepancy in sentencing.
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 7:05 am and is filed under Traffic Enforcement, Traffic Laws. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.