LAPEER (WWJ) – A Lapeer man who police say caused a fatal crash while texting and driving has been sentenced to one month in jail and 12 months of probation.
Forty-one-year old Jerry Joseph pleaded guilty last month to a moving violation causing death.
The charges stem from a November 2010 crash that killed 78-year-old Irene Paquin of Attica Township. Paquin was the passenger in the car driven by her 81-year-old husband Paul, which was broadsided by Joesph’s car. Paul was seriously hurt in the crash, but lived.
Phone records revealed that Joseph was texting just seconds before the impact.
In addition to jail time and probation, Joseph will also have to pay more than $5,000 in fines and restitution
Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said the sentence handed down to Joseph was fair.
“It was a fair sentence under the law that we have at this time, the moving violation causing death, which texting and driving falls underneath, is a one year maximum at this time,” Konschuh said, although he’d like to see texting-while-driving penalties toughened up.
“We have found statistically since that time that texting and driving has shown to be about three or four times more dangerous than operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs when operating a motor vehicle,” Konschuh said.
But the prosecutor isn’t just talking about it, he is actively trying to get a change in the law.
“I’ve been in touch with our legislature to have an effort to put forth to enhance the penalties to operating while texting, causing a crash or causing a death. Causing a serious injury would be a five year felony and causing death would be a 15 year felony,” Konschuh said.
Michigan’s ban on texting while driving officially took effect August 1, 2010.