In what is being heralded as a landmark case, an 18-year-old Haverhill man was recently ordered to serve a one-year sentence in the Essex County House of Corrections after a jury convicted him of causing a deadly crash while driving and texting behind the wheel of a car.
In February 2011, Aaron Deveau was driving when his car allegedly crossed the center line of a roadway and struck a vehicle headed in the opposite direction head-on. 55-year-old Daniel Bowley reportedly suffered extensive injuries in the crash and died in a Boston hospital 18 days later. Bowley’s girlfriend, Luz Roman, was also injured in the crash.
In 2010, Massachusetts passed legislation making it a crime to harm someone in an automobile accident while texting behind the wheel. In addition to charging Deveau with motor vehicle homicide, prosecutors also charged him with violating the recently enacted law. In a bench trial, Deveau testified he was not texting and driving at the time of the collision, and that he did not remember doing so at all that day. According to prosecutors, evidence that Deveau was in fact texting two minutes before the crash proved his negligence.
District Court Judge Stephen Abany reportedly imposed the maximum sentence on Deveau in an effort to deter other would-be texting while driving offenders. A portion of Deveau’s 2-year and 2 ½-year concurrent sentences were suspended, however, because he was only 17 at the time of the accident and had no prior criminal history. Deveau’s driver’s license was also suspended for 15 years.
A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, David Procopio, said that the criminal case was important and the maximum sentence sought by prosecutors was appropriate. He also said it was vital for drivers to remember that distracted driving is both dangerous and deadly. According to Judge Abany, although a criminal sentence normally takes into account punishment, rehabilitation, public safety, and deterrence, his primary concern when he handed down Deveau’s sentence was deterrence. Judge Abany said that his goal was to send a message that all drivers need to “keep their eyes on the road.”
Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Crashes are frequently caused by distracted, careless, inattentive, or impaired drivers. Unfortunately, car accident victims often suffer devastating and costly injuries. If you were hurt or a family member was killed in a motor vehicle collision, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain, suffering, disability, lost wages, and funeral expenses. A qualified Massachusetts auto and motorcycle accident attorney can help.
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