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Distracted driving has to be proven for a conviction

We all know the trope “innocent until proven guilty,” but it proved to be true in a recent case of alleged distracted driving.

Accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles or any other passenger vehicle can be deadly if the driver isn’t paying attention. This was reportedly the case in a 2015 collision in Monroe County that resulted in the deaths of three people.

The details of the case

State police say that in June 2015, Franklin Wyatt, 59, of Macomb, Oklahoma, was driving a big rig on Interstate 380 in Monroe County when he crossed the median and hit another semi and a passenger bus. Three people died and five more were injured.

Officers said they believed Wyatt was distracted by his cellphone and his dogs while he was driving. Prosecutors filed three counts of homicide by vehicle, three counts of involuntary manslaughter, eight counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and 17 counts of reckless endangerment against Wyatt.

For his part, Wyatt claimed he blacked out and couldn’t remember the crash.

A judge dismissed the charges, saying there was a lack of evidence that Wyatt was criminally negligent or reckless. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office appealed the case to the Superior Court, which agreed with the lower court’s ruling. While the collision was tragic, the judge wrote, any cause of the crash is speculative.

What this means to you

Being involved in an accident is traumatic even if you aren’t injured. Even in the slightest of fender benders, people will chat while awaiting the arrival of police.

It’s important to gather information after an accident from the other participants. You too must offer up your license and insurance information. But you do not have to admit you were looking at your cellphone, changing the radio station or talking to kids or dogs when the accident occurred.

After an accident, if you believe you will be the focus of a lawsuit of any kind, it’s best to contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you keep your options open.

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