On April 19, 2022, after a four-hour trial, Peter Greenspun’s client was found not guilty of careless driving. This case stemmed from a tragic traffic accident in which our client was making a proper left turn at an intersection controlled by traffic lights. The intersection was clear when the driver started the left turn in a proper and normal fashion. There was no use of a cell phone or other distractions.
However, as the driver started the turn, a pedestrian started to walk across the street within the crosswalk. The driver was momentarily blinded by the sun and did not see the pedestrian until the moment of the accident. The pedestrian fell backward and struck the back of his head, leading to his death.
While this was an exceedingly tragic accident, it was just that, an accident. The prosecution was based on a new jail eligible misdemeanor “careless driving” statute, Va. Code § 46.2-816.1, which was enacted on July 1, 2020. The statute is intended to address true distracted driving, such as driving while texting, use of a cell phone, and other similar activities.
In this case, there was no evidence at all of distracted, careless, or other improper driving activities. Our client was gratified that the Court agreed and came to the not guilty verdict. Nonetheless, Greenspun Shapiro urges all drivers on our roads to put down their phones and pay attention to the road and their surroundings.