Mass. Teen Aaron Deveau Faces Prison in Landmark Texting While Driving Case

Dec 8, 2004
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#1
Teenager Aaron Deveau insists he was not texting when his car swerved and collided head-on with an oncoming pickup truck on Feb. 20, 2011, but 18 days after the crash, the man he hit died. Now Deveau is on trial in Haverhill, Mass. in what could be a landmark case in the controversial topic of texting while driving. Deveau now stands accused of killing 55-year-old Donald Bowley.

Prosecutors allege that Deveau, who has pleaded not guilty, was texting the day his vehicle slipped across the center line of a Haverhill street and crashed into Bowley's truck.

"My brother received such severe head trauma that he had, there was no hope for him," the victim's sister Donna Bowley told ABC News.

Deveau was charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, being an operator under 18 using a mobile phone, being an operator reading or sending an electronic message, a marked lanes violation, and two counts of negligent operation and injury from mobile phone use.

Deveau's lawyer has said there is no evidence the crash caused Bowley's death, while Deveau told police he swerved to avoid a vehicle in front of him that slowed down, according to ABC News Boston affiliate WCVB.

Luz Roman, who was dating Bowley, also suffered serious injuries in the crash. When she took to the stand earlier this week, she broke down as she talked about being in the truck with Bowley that day.

"This is a miracle that I'm here," Roman told the court.

Prosecutors contend Deveau was not paying attention when the vehicles collided. Police say he received two messages: one at 2:34 p.m. and a second at 2:35 p.m., on the day of the crash. Prosecutors say the accident happened at 2:36 p.m.

"The defendant sent and received 193 texts on Feb 20, 2011," a prosecuting attorney in the case told the court.

In a videotaped statement recorded after the crash, Deveau, then 17, had a question for police: "If anything happens to them, if one passes away, what would happen to me?"

Texting while driving is a crime in Washington, D.C. and 38 states, including Massachusetts.

Many advocates of bans on texting while driving want to see the number of states outlawing it expand.

"I would like to see cell-phone use banned in all 50 states," said one advocate, Rob Reynolds. "We want to make this as socially unacceptable as like smoking has become in public places."

If convicted Deveau will face two years in prison. On the count of motor vehicle homicide, he faces sentence of up to 2½ years.

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whiskeyguy

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So he received 2 texts one minute before the crash... so they're claiming he was either reading those or typing a reply? Yet there's absolutely no proof that either of those happened, and you can't convict someone on assumptions. The best the prosecution can come up with is the vague fact that he sent 193 texts during that day.

If he caused the accident, charge him with whatever negligence you can prove.

I'm sure fenrir is about to disagree with me, he just seems like the type.
 

Motor Head

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Jan 23, 2006
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#3
If you can prove that he was engaged in a text exchange from the time he started travelling you can build a case. This seems more circumstantial. If they found his phone, with a partial message on it, then it's a slam dunk. If he had just sent a message, same thing.
 

whiskeyguy

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If you can prove that he was engaged in a text exchange from the time he started travelling you can build a case. This seems more circumstantial. If they found his phone, with a partial message on it, then it's a slam dunk. If he had just sent a message, same thing.
Yeah but it sounds like if that happened they would have reported it. I've seen news reports that state someone sent a text message one minute before causing a bad accident... seems like an odd fact to omit if it happened.

I've also been wondering this lately... is it illegal to text at all, or just to text using your hands? Most phones have voice-to-text capabilities these days. It probably varies state-by-state, but if I was in a similar situation that would be my defense.
 
Jun 30, 2005
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#5
they have been playing this up on the Ma. News stations...It's a dogshit case. They have NOTHING to prove he was texting at the time of the accident. Even the lead officer on the case stated he has no proof he was texting. It's absolutely a case of the State trying to make and example of someone by tacking on the extra umph of texting while driving...he said he was tired and may have dozed off...they can't prove that didn't happen..He's a shithead for causing the accident but the state is also retarded for bring the case as such
 

mascan42

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Aug 26, 2002
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#6
Police say he received two messages: one at 2:34 p.m. and a second at 2:35 p.m., on the day of the crash. Prosecutors say the accident happened at 2:36 p.m.
Receiving a text isn't the same thing as sending, or even reading one. I get emails & texts all the time while I'm driving, but I wait until I'm at a traffic light or at least on a clear stretch of road before looking at them. But according to prosecutor's bullshit theory, if I have an accident 10 seconds after my phone went off, that's proof I was texting even if the phone's still in my pocket. If they at least had proof the texts had been read before the accident, then they might have a case. Here, they only have one if they get a judge with something to prove.
 

Party Rooster

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Apr 27, 2005
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#7
I've also been wondering this lately... is it illegal to text at all, or just to text using your hands? Most phones have voice-to-text capabilities these days. It probably varies state-by-state, but if I was in a similar situation that would be my defense.
It may be something you wouldn't get a ticket for but if you got in an accident you would still be liable because you were distracted. Talking in the phone with a Bluetooth in your car is legal but if it can be proven that you allowed yourself to become distracted you're still in trouble.

I remember when Siri came out for the iPhone that a lot of the tech blogs said that it would still be illegal to text like that in some states that have banned simply "touching" your cell phone to turn on the feature while driving.

There's a bill that just passed the California Assembly that would specifically ALLOW voice-activated texting, so we'll see how it goes.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1501-1550/ab_1536_cfa_20120420_120031_asm_comm.html
 

Norm Stansfield

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Mar 17, 2009
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#8
It may be something you wouldn't get a ticket for but if you got in an accident you would still be liable because you were distracted.
I don't get it. So the government has to tell me that it's wrong to drink and drive, it's wrong to type away on a keyboard and drive, it's wrong to hold a phone and talk away while I drive, etc., because I'm too stupid to know on my own, right?

But figuring out whether it's right or wrong to use text to voice while I drive, I am perfectly capable of? Now all of a sudden I'm a responsible adult?

Fuck this. If we're mindless children who need to be told what to do, then let the people in charge be liable for when we do something wrong.