Create laws in AZ that hold distracted drivers that kill people criminally accountable.
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TomsLaw Initiative - Visit www.TomsLawAZ.com
What Happened: On April 2nd, 2016 my Dad was tragically killed by a driver who was distracted by her phone. He was rear-ended on his motorcycle by a driver speeding down the highway in her sedan. Her view of him in front of her, in her lane, was unobstructed for a minimum of 6 seconds as is provable by an ambulance dash-cam recording of the collision. Her statement was that she "reached for her cell phone with her left hand and that she took her eyes off the road", she says she "never saw the motorcycle" and that "when she looked up the accident had already happened." Within that 6 seconds, traveling at the reported 63-65mph in a 55mph zone, she covered 190 yards of highway completely unaware of the road conditions around her. She did not see him until he impacted her windshield; by then, it was too late.
What We Want To Do: Through legislation, we would like to create a way to enable families to bring criminal charges against a driver who decided to pay more attention to their phone than the road and killed somebody. This would enable families already reeling from the loss of a loved one to something so senseless and preventable, to be able to find some sense of justice. They would not be met with an insult on top of injury - as our family has, being told the actions of the driver that killed my Dad deserved only a $188 speeding ticket.
To summarize, this is what we are trying to accomplish with this Initiative:
- Make it possible to bring a criminal prosecution against a person who kills another person while driving their car and engaging in any manual manipulation of their phone, ie: text messaging, application use, and phone calls. This is possible by making handheld use of a phone illegal, or by defining manual manipulation of a wireless communication device while driving as "reckless" or "grossly deviant" from what a reasonable person would do.
- Make it illegal to use your phone outside of a hands-free device while driving. This would include text messaging, application use, and phone calls.
- Make causing death by moving violation while engaging in any manual manipulation of a wireless communication device a felony, by amending ARS 28-672.
How We Can Do It: Below is a more detailed look at the ways we have identified to change the laws in Arizona to help families achieve justice against a driver who chooses to abandon their responsibility of keeping their eyes on the road:
- Make the "manual manipulation of a wireless communication device while driving" illegal.
This is our primary cause. This is not a push to enable Law Enforcement the ability to write tickets - this change will enable future FATALITY collisions caused by distracted driving to be prosecuted at a criminal level; ARS 13-1103, ARS 13-1102, ARS 13-1201, and others. Currently, killing someone because you were distracted by your phone while driving is not considered "a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe" because it is not illegal to manually manipulate a cell phone while driving, and therefore not considered reckless or grossly deviant behavior.
- Add a new provision to ARS Title 28
This will regulate cell phone usage while driving. For example, requiring it to be docked in a hands-free system to be used and creating a statewide "text-messaging while driving" ban. To overcome the gray area of "grossly deviant" behavior not having a definition, a definitive law (28-701 is not specific enough) needs to be broken to enable the criminal prosecution of Negligent Homicide or Manslaughter. **Again, this is not a measure to enable police officers to simply pull you over and write tickets as a revenue stream for the city or state - they can already write the 28-701.a citation for a myriad of conditions, if they so chose.** This is a means to enable criminal prosecution after a fatality accident caused by the manual manipulation of a cell phone has already occurred.
In Conclusion: All of the above changes will enable families to pursue justice to a much larger degree than they are currently able in Arizona.
Thank you for your support.
- Jonathon Hall and Family
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” ― Benjamin Franklin
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