Police: Driver Was Texting During Fatal Accident

7:55 PM, Feb 11, 2010   |    comments
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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- In October, police say a man crossed a busy four-lane road against a red light.  The pedestrian, 48 year old James Eaton, died when a car struck him.  Yet police have charged the driver, 48 year old Lori Reineke, with vehicular homicide and other crimes.  Police say when the accident happened, she was texting while driving.

"They have enough probable cause and are very conifdent that the driver of the vehicle that struck the pedestrian was texting on her cell phone as she was driving," said Cpl. David Schiralli of Gwinnett County PD.

But Reineke's attorney says police have misjudged the facts.

"Uncategorically, she was not texting at the time this accidernt happened," said attorney Larry Delan.   "She was not distracted by the cell phone by either talking on it or texting while this accident occured," said Delan.

The case is a first in Gwinnett.  Distracted driving is becoming a national fixation.  And Gwinnett police don't mind saying -- this case sends a sharp message to motorists.

"If you are distracted from driving a vehicle at any extended period of time, then that's where the charge comes in," said Cpl. Schiralli.

But Delan said the case was a tragedy -- for the man who died, and for the family of a woman he says is wrongly charged.

"This is a case where they havent charged it before, possibly haven't prosecuted it before, and if this is their test case, they've chosen poorly," said Delan.

Though this case may be a first in Gwinnett, it's not likely the last.  Especially if a bill now in the legislature becomes law -- a bill that would outlaw any texting and driving in Georgia. 

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