Blogs > The Law Blogger

The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Driving While Distracted by Cell Phone

Has the time come for drivers to give-up cell phones while operating their vehicles? In Michigan, more municipalities and jurisdictions are saying, "maybe". The cell phone lobby, however, says, "not yet", and continues to block state-wide cell phone bans.

Despite the efficiencies achieved by the now-ubiquitous cell phone, Royal Oak, Southfield and other jurisdictions have considered outlawing this form of "multitasking". Many other Oakland County municipalities have enacted "driving while distracted" provisions which enhance the fines assessed when a cell phone factors into a traffic violation.

Many would say, "it's about time." Even the cell phone lobby may be coming around. A recent Sunday New York Times front-page article describes how the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association recently changed its position opposing cell phone bans, to a more "neutral" stance. The Sunday Times article, which summarizes the scientific data compiled about distracted driving, can be found at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/mq6r4x

Although mounting statistics compare cell phone driving to drunk driving, eight states have enacted legislation that prevent municipalities from passing ordinances that prohibit cell phone use. Other states like California, New York and New Jersey, have banned hand-held devices while driving. Royal Oak and Southfield may be next.

If you have suffered injuries from a driver distracted by a cell phone, or have had a traffic citation enhanced because of it, contact us to discuss your options.

Update:  See comment below regarding an OP update.

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Custody and the 100-Mile Rule


The Michigan Legislature long-ago codified the rules of divorce in the Child Custody Act. One of the provisions in the Act addresses when one parent proposes to move:
"a parent of a child whose custody is governed by court order shall not change a legal residence of the child to a location that is more than 100 miles from the child's legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order is issued."

A recent published (thus binding) decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals provides guidance as to how those 100-miles are calculated.

In Bowers -v- VanderMuellen-Bowers, the parents had joint legal custody of their son. Father, who had been awarded so-called "physical custody", wanted to move from Big Rapids to Byron, Michigan. The distance was very close to 100-miles.

The lower court adopted a "radial-miles" calculation, rather than using "road-miles" as the Mother asserted. The radial-mile method of calculation involves a simple calculation using a ruler and a map to connect two points, "as the crow flies"; not as a vehicle would travel on actual roads. In the Bowers case, the distance would be more than 100-miles if actual road-miles were calculated, and the move could have been disallowed by the family court judge.

In affirming the lower court's radial-miles decision, the Court of Appeals borrowed analysis from a 2007 Michigan Supreme Court case interpreting the 20-mile restriction of a public employee's residence in the Public Officers & Employees Act. Therefore, Michigan Courts do not calculate miles the way they are calculated by Google Maps or Mapquest.

If you have a case that involves a proposed move of your child which you do not think is in the best interests of the minor child, contact our office to discuss your options.

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