Texting While Driving Deemed Not “Reckless” by Gwinnett County District Attorney
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that vehicular homicide charges against Lori Reineke, a Gwinnett County woman who hit and killed a pedestrian last October, had been reduced from a first-degree felony to a second-degree misdemeanor.
Police had originally charged Reineke with first-degree vehicular homicide due to reckless driving because she had been texting behind the wheel when she struck and killed James Eaton III.
There were mitigating factors in Reineke’s favor: it had been dark and rainy that night, and Reineke’s light had been green at the time, so Eaton was not supposed to have been in the crosswalk. That said, there was clear evidence that Reineke had been exchanging text messages at the time of the incident. Therefore, police maintained that Reineke hit Eaton not because of poor visibility, but because she was distracted.
However, after reviewing the case, District Attorney Danny Porter said that there were no “reckless driving” factors present at the time of the accident, so there was no way to charge Reineke for more than a misdemeanor.
The question, then–and this is particuarly interesting to me as a Gwinnett County car accident lawyer–seems to have been: Is text messaging while driving reckless?