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Judge Orders Cell Phone Ban for Distracted Driver Who Killed Mother of Two

texting and driving teensA 23-year-old Michigan woman who killed a mother of two in a texting and driving accident last year has been banned from owning or using a cell phone or other portable electronic device for two years. Mitzi Nelson – a college student – was driving in Watertown Township when she became distracted by her cell phone. As she looked at her mobile device and took her eyes off the road, she hit and killed Jill Byelich, who was riding her bicycle on the shoulder. Thirty-five-year old Byelich was wearing a helmet and had reflective lights on her bike at the time of the crash.

The unusual sentence was handed down by Judge Stewart McDonald, who also ordered that Nelson pay $15,000 in restitution, spend 90 days in Clinton County jail and serve 2 years’ probation.

“In the blink of an eye, a moments carelessness, a life was taken, something I’m certain at 23 years of age Ms. Nelson will relive for the rest of her life,” said Judge Stewart McDonald.

Eisbrouch Marsh injury attorneys continue to support legislation that deters distracted driving in NJ and throughout the nation, given the potentially deadly consequences. For some innocent people affected by such reckless behavior, legal recourse is one of the most effective options to hold negligent motorists responsible. We assist victims in pursuing a texting and driving accident lawsuit in New Jersey, where handheld cell phone use is banned for all drivers.

Woman gets jail time for fatal texting crash

Following the fatal accident, Nelson told authorities that she had slipped into the habit of keeping her cell phone in her lap when driving, which most likely contributed to the moving violation and death of Byelich. While Michigan laws ban texting while driving, the state does not have rules against handheld mobile device use while driving.

The victim’s husband, Jordan Byelich, actually suggested that Judge McDonald impose a cell phone on Nelson. The novel punishment was the first time ever such a sentence was given for a distracted driving offense. Judge McDonald conceded that the ban, which some may perceive as “draconian” may be challenged in a higher court, but remained hopeful it would act as a deterrent for other motorists.

“In this fast-paced world, we’ve become so dependent on [cellphones] that it’s almost an extension of oneself,” said Judge McDonald. “There’s a penalty attached to this; for the next two years, she’s going to have to learn what life is like without being constantly dependent on a cellphone.”

For her part, Nelson says that she feels great remorse about the incident, and her attorney told the Lansing Journal that he doesn’t anticipate challenging the judge’s sentence.

NJ distracted driver accident lawyers

As veteran car accident lawyers in New Jersey, Eisbrouch Marsh remains committed to seeking justice for victims of careless drivers who inflict harm on others through their negligent actions. Anyone who gets behind the wheel carries a great responsibility to drive safely and free of distractions. When motorists devote their attention elsewhere, they may be held liable in a court of law. If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a distracted driver, you may have a viable claim for damages.

Our legal team represents residents of Bergen, Essex, Morris, Middlesex, Hudson and Passaic counties, as well as all 5 boroughs of New York City.  We offer free legal consultations to all prospective clients; call our office at 201-977-4961 for expert legal advice.

  1. LA Times, Cellphone ban for driver who killed cyclist is 'a reminder every day,' judge says http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-cell-phone-ban-distracted-driving-20150605-story.html
  2. WILX 10.com, Woman Gets Jail, Probation in Fatal Texting Crash http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/Woman-Gets-Jail-Probation-in-TDeath-306079991.html