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New legislation increases penalty for distracted driving that results in injury or death


Distracted driving resulting in the death or injury of a person in the state of Michigan will be subject to steeper penalties under new legislation in the state house.

Lawmakers behind the legislation say there needs to be stronger deterrents for using a phone while driving.

Republican State Representative Bradley Slaugh introduced the legislation. He said there is no difference under current law between injury or death caused by distracted driving and accidents that happen in spite of a driver's focus on the road.

“This bill is really designed to say if you are utilizing your phone and it’s causing a distraction and you kill or injure a person the penalty should be more severe than if your hand is one your wheel and you’re focused and something happens.”

Slaugh said the penalty is to incentivize people not to use their phone.

“There’s no definitive thing for a prosecutor to look for any certain kind of penalty over and above if you’re using your phone in a hands on method versus simply going down the road.”

The penalty would be the equivalent of hitting someone in a work zone - a fine of up to one-thousand dollars or up to 15 years in prison for a death and one year for an injury.

Slaugh said the legislation has bipartisan support.