Woman gets reduced charges, pleads guilty in motorcycle accident

A Tennessee woman has entered a guilty plea in connection with a 2013 wreck that left two victims dead. Official reports show that the woman, 37, has pleaded guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the motorcycle accident. Two victims, a 66-year-old man and his 62-year-old wife, suffered fatal injuries in the motorcycle crash on St. Patrick’s Day in 2013.

Authorities say that the woman was distracted at the time of the accident; it appears that she was using her phone when she struck the victims on U.S. 64. A time stamp on the woman’s phone showed that she had posted information to a social media site while she was behind the wheel. An unfinished message was also identified on the woman’s cellphone.

Interestingly, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court actually worked in the woman’s favor, leading her to plead guilty to two lesser charges instead of the vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment she had initially faced. The court ruling determined that police officers must have a warrant to search someone’s cellphone after an accident. As a result, the woman’s charges were lowered, and her maximum time behind bars has dropped to just four years from potentially decades in custody.

In addition to killing the two motorcycle riders, the collision also left two other victims injured when the at-fault driver plowed head-on into their vehicle. Those victims, who were 19 and 22 at the time of the collision, were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. The at-fault driver was also injured in the accident.

Even though the woman will face less-severe charges because of a legal technicality, she may still be subject to civil penalties because of her poor decision-making. The woman’s negligence may require her to pay for medical costs and pain and suffering of her victims, among other complaints. No one should have to lose a loved one to a negligent driver who is distracted behind the wheel.

Source: Times Daily, “Woman pleads guilty” Tom Smith, Jul. 14, 2014