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Maryland driver may have criminal charges in fatal crash

A Maryland woman, whom a witness says appeared to be using her phone to text while attempting to cross a busy highway, hit and killed a motorcyclist. Now, the driver may be facing criminal charges resulting from this accident. The charges are a new component of the laws regarding cell phone use in the state that seek to prevent possibly negligent behavior while operating a motor vehicle.

According to accounts from someone who has claimed to see the driver using her cell phone, and records that were obtained from the cell tower logs, the driver was apparently using her phone around the time of the collision. The woman was attempting to cross a heavily traveled section of highway in order to arrive at a nearby store. The motorcyclist was traveling down the roadway when the woman struck him with her car.

The rider was sent flying off of his motorcycle and struck the pavement. He died at the scene. Police have reported that records indeed show that the accused driver was using her phone right around the time of the accident. However, because the driver is being charged under a newly created law, several authorities have expressed doubts as to whether she will be held accountable for manslaughter.

This driver does appear to have been using her cell phone at or around the time of the collision; doing so violates a new law that Maryland has just recently enacted which makes texting and talking on hand held phones while driving a primary, fine-able offense. However, the woman most likely was not maliciously engaging in behavior that she thought could result in the death of another person. Moreover, even attorneys not involved in the situation have stated that the charges against the driver would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. While the death of the motorcyclist is a terrible tragedy, it is not clear whether the criminal charges that have been filed against the driver will result in a conviction of manslaughter.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, Arundel texting crash highlights concerns with manslaughter law, Pamela Wood, Oct. 14, 2013

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