It’s always tempting, isn’t it? You hear the alert of a new text coming in, and even though you are behind the wheel, you feel compelled to take a peek. The trouble is, a peek can turn into a long look or even a reply – and that’s dangerous.
Texting and driving is incredibly common, and not just among the 20-and-under crowd. Recent statistics indicate that 27% of adults have sent or received text messages while driving. Other reports show that texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
The offense has often been compared to drinking and driving, with officials citing similar behaviors in texting drivers such as swerving, erratic behavior, driving too fast or too slow, and more.
The danger is severe enough that the majority of state governments have taken action. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that 39 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all currently ban text messaging for all drivers.
Texting and driving might be difficult to identify by sight, but recent polls show offenders fessing up:
- A 2011 Harris Polls discovered that 49% of drivers with cellphones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving.
- According to the Pew Research Center (2010), 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone.
These responses point to a sad fact: Annually, about 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries are caused by distracted drivers.
What the law says
These disturbing numbers have caused many states to take action. In Michigan, texting while driving was banned in July 2010. And now most teenage drivers are forbidden to even use cell phones while driving. Kelsey’s Law, named after Upper Peninsula teenager Kelsey Raffaele, who died at age 17 while talking on her cell phone and driving, brings a fine and possible license suspension to drivers with a level 1 or 2 graduated license found using their cell phone while driving.
Clearly, it is in your best interest to curtail cell phone use in general while driving. In our ever connected world of busy lives and social media, though, this is easier said than done. Try these tips if you are tempted to check your messages while behind the wheel:
- Turn off your phone when you drive. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a great policy when it comes to safe driving. Store your phone where you won’t see it, and be sure to turn the sound off.
- Have someone else text for you. A passenger in your car can handle incoming texts if you need to address a message while driving.
- Establish ground rules. If you have a teen driver, set the expectations for driving and texting. If you ban it and provide consequences, you will get better results.
- Paint a picture for your driver. Many teens and adults won’t drive drunk. But they need to understand that driving distracted is just as dangerous. Talk with all the drivers in your family about the consequences.
No text is worth the price of death or severe injury. Know the facts and set the limits in your family to ensure the safety of those you love.
David Haenel, Esq., of the firm of Finebloom & Haenel, is a criminal defense attorney, author, and lecturer who has been named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers magazine. He can be contacted at FightYourCase.com.
In DUI situations, it is imperative for the State’s case that police obtain timely evidence of the driver’s blood alcohol content. However, before an officer can draw blood from a driver they are required to apply for and obtain a search warrant (or obtain consent); this process can take several hours to complete, depending on the time of day.
Police and Law enforcement across the country are now utilizing video conferencing technology and other means to expedite the process of obtaining search warrants for blood draws.
In jurisdictions that utilize electronic warrant procedures, obtaining a warrant can take as little as 30 minutes. For instance, the electronic procedure exercised in Palm Bay, Florida begins with a cellular call made from the officer’s vehicle to a judge in their jurisdiction. After informing the judge of the incident, the officer emails an affidavit with their electronic signature to the judge. Once the judge reviews the affidavit, they can directly deliver their official testimony by video-calling the officer using Skype.
While proponents of the use of this technology argue that implementation of these procedures will save time and money, some critics aren’t sold on the idea. For instance, in some Michigan jurisdictions, patrol cars aren’t even equipped with dash cams. This can prove problematic when there is a dispute about the basis for the traffic stop that leads to an OWI arrest. Often, operating while intoxicated cases in Michigan and other states hinge on the credibility of the officer. If there is money to be spent, shouldn’t it first be allocated to technology that levels the playing field? Furthermore, other critics have argued that the ability to instantaneously communicate with the officer on the scene with the accused present should require that the accused have an opportunity to be heard prior to the issuance of a search warrant.
I love sharing good news, especially when it means that a client will not be charged after being falsely accused! The next time that you read or hear that someone has been arrested, don’t blindly assume that they are guilty. Have a safe and happy weekend!
Operating While Intoxicated was dismissed against our client in Mason last week and a felony possession of controlled substances was dismissed against our client in Paw Paw on Monday morning.
Each and every time a young member of society finds himself or herself tangled in a crime, a multitude of complications come to the surface. The impact of a conviction is of major concern to both the teen and their family, as a criminal record creates many barriers to the individual’s ability to succeed further down the road. A criminal conviction can ultimately prevent someone from being able to obtain a good job, bar them from certain educational prospects, and exclude them from many financial opportunities. Therefore, it is paramount that we take drastic steps to prevent delinquency amongst the youths of Michigan. Fortunately, the state of Michigan is taking many steps to provide our youth with opportunities to prevent criminal behavior. Additionally, Michigan gives youths the opportunity of a second chance under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, otherwise known as HYTA or YTA status.
During a press conference held in Lansing on March 4, 2013, representatives from the Michigan State Police (MSP) and Michigan Big Brother Big Sisters (MBBBS) announced the formation of a of a new alliance aimed at serving Michigan’s at-risk youth. The two agencies’ entered a Memorandum of Agreement to support one another’s activities. The alliance is meant to promote collaboration between the MSP and MBBBS as a means of reducing delinquency, alcohol/drug/tobacco use, violence, and truancy. This new alliance will seek to increase the opportunity for littles to attend the Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy. Additionally, an effort will be made to increase the number of Michigan State Police mentors serving as Big’s in the Michigan Big Brother Big Sisters One-to- One Youth mentoring program.
The Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy (MSPYLA) is hosted by the Michigan State Police and provides teens with an opportunity to develop leadership skills and additionally build positive relationships with law enforcement officers. During a week- long stay at the MSP Training Academy located in Lansing, police officers strive to form a foundation of responsibility, respect and trust within the minds of youth participants.
The BBBS manages a nationally recognized program, the One-to One Youth mentoring program. In their alliance with the Michigan State Police, this program pairs a Michigan State police officer with an at risk youth member of that officer’s community. The goal of the program is not just to instill good values within the minds of at risk youth, but also to allow these youth to form good relationships with law enforcers from an early age. The one-to-one youth mentoring program has been proven to make participants 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 33 percent less likely to hit someone, and 27 percent less likely to being using alcohol.
In a time when Michigan law enforcement is making big steps to preventing teenage delinquency, the state’s legislature is also contributing in their own way. On February 7, 2013, Representative Santana introduced House Bill No. 4206 to amend the 1927 public act 175 entitled “The code of criminal procedure,”. Also on the 7th, Michigan Senator’s Johnson and Colbeck introduced a similar bill to the Michigan Senate. The amendment seeks to change the age stipulations of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. Currently, this state law allows a judge to place a youth between the ages of 17 and 20 who is alleged to have committed a crime and who has pleaded guilty to that crime to be placed in prison or on probation without a conviction to avoid a criminal record. If passed, representative Santana’s amendment to the Bill would extend the HYTA’s eligibility to youths between the ages of 17 and 25.
If you or a family member have been charged with a crime in Michigan and are seeking to avoid a criminal record under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, you need an honest and hard-working defense attorney. Contact The Leydorf Law Firm at any time by calling (517) 388-6800.
Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice faces sentencing for Bank Fraud
Diane M. Hathaway, a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, will be sentenced
on May 28 after pleading guilty to one count of bank fraud on January 29, 2013.
Before the deterioration of her legal career, Hathaway worked as an assistant prosecutor
in Macomb County for 6 years, and in 1992 she was elected to the Wayne County Circuit
Court. After two reelections, a total of 16 years on the bench, Hathaway launched a
successful Democratic campaign to unseat conservative Chief Justice of the Court,
Cliff Taylor. Hathaway officially took office for the Supreme Court in January of 2009;
however, her time with Michigan’s court of last resort would be cut short after only four-
A scandal involving Hathaway surfaced on November 19, 2012, when U.S. Attorney
Barbara McQuade’s office filed a civil complaint against the former Justice and her
husband, attorney Michael Kingsley. According to the complaint filed by McQuade,
Kingsley and Hathaway “systematically and fraudulently transferred property and hid
assets in order to support their claim to ING (Bank) that they did not have the financial
resources to pay the mortgage on the Michigan property”.
On January 7, 2013, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission (JTC) filed a formal
complaint against Hathaway, accusing the former judge of “Blatant and brazen
violations” of judicial ethics. Their allegations against the judge included bank fraud,
tax fraud, money laundering and lying to investigators. Additionally, the JTC included
a petition that Hathaway be suspended from the court while the matter was investigated.
On January 21, 2013, two weeks into her suspension, the former justice resigned from her
position on the bench. Hathaway’s retirement prompted the judicial commission to drop
their formal complaint. The JTC justified their decision, stating, “nothing further could
by accomplished” by pursuing the complaint against Hathaway.
In the course of a hearing conducted on January 29, 2013, before U.S. District Judge John
Corbett O’Meara, Diane Hathaway pled guilty to committing bank fraud in connection
with property owned in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. The former judge admitted that between
2010 and 2011 she knowingly engaged in a scheme to defraud ING Direct Bank by
concealing assets from the bank to qualify for a “short sale”.
In March of 2010, Hathaway quitclaimed her Florida residence, valued at $664,682, to
her stepdaughter for a grand total of $10. Later in October of that year, Hathaway and
her husband listed their Grosse Pointe Park residence for $1.2 million. On December
14, 2010 the couple submitted an application requesting a short sale on their property in
Grosse Pointe Park to ING Direct Bank. They stated that their savings had been drained
to make house payments, maintain property, pay taxes, and defend Kingsley in a lawsuit
related to his law practice. After receiving the bank’s approval, Hathaway and Kingsley
sold their Grosse Pointe Park property in a short sale on November 7. 2011.
By engaging in the short sale of their $1.5 million property, Kingsley and Hathaway sold
their Grosse Pointe Park home for $850,000; consequently, erasing nearly $600,000 in
When a homeowner cannot afford their mortgage payments and simultaneously the value
of their property drops, making it impossible for them to refinance their home, they
may be eligible for a legal short sale. When conducting a short sale, the bank decides
that selling the property at a loss is more advantageous than forcing the owner into
foreclosure. Essentially, a short sale is a bank’s forgiveness of debt to a borrower who
has claimed financial hardship.
It is considered illegal to hide assets as a means of justification for the conduction of a
short sale when the action is done to defraud the bank or financial institution that holds
The 58-year-old mother of 5 will faces a prison sentence and up to $120,000 in fines
and restitution. Due to negotiations between the Federal Prosecutor and Hathaway’s
attorney, Steve Fishman, Hathaway’s punishment will be limited to a maximum of 18
months behind bars. As a part of their negotiation, Hathaway waive her right to appeal
the case after sentencing. If a pre-sentence report determines there was no financial loss,
sentencing could be as little as 4-10 months.
Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Hathaway. Earlier in January,
pension officials calculated that Hathaway will earn approximately $99,000 every year
for the rest of her life.