|Kelsey Raffaele killed at 17|
As of today, Michigan roads have become a little bit
safer. On January 8th, 2013
Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 592 of 2012, also known as
Kelsey’s Law. The new law, which takes effect today, is named in honor of
Kelsey Raffaele, 17, of Sault Ste. Marie, who died tragically in a
cellphone-related automobile crash in 2010.
The law bans 16 and 17
year old drivers with a level 1 or a level 2 driver’s license under Michigan’s graduated licensing system from using a handheld phone while driving.
A level 1 driver has
the most restrictions, while a level 2 driver only has a few restrictions –such
as the number of passengers allowed and limits on nighttime driving. A teen who is at least 17 and has at least
six months of driving experience as a level 2 driver may qualify for a level 3
license- the typical, unrestricted MI driver's license.
Violation of the law is
a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a young driver for no other
reason than being on a cell phone.
However, both the governor’s office and law enforcement spokespersons signaled
that, in most cases, Kelsey’s Law will be enforced only after
detection of another moving violation; this will effectively making enforcement
of the law secondary.
A violation of the law
will result in a civil infraction with a fine to be determined by the local
jurisdiction, and could cause the level 1 or 2 driver’s license period to be
extended. No points will be assigned to
the driver's record and drivers will not be punished for using a vehicle's
integrated hands-free phone system or for using cell phones to report an
Officers say that
Kelsey's Law is not about punishing teenagers driving on a probationary
license, but all about saving lives. We here at the Law Blogger could not agree
Nationally, car crashes are the leading
cause of death for young drivers. In 2011,
154 fatal crashes in Michigan were caused by a driver under 21. So far this
year, there have been more than 300,000 crashes due to cellphones in the US,
and not all of these crashes are attributable to teen-drivers.
While an all-out cell
phone ban for all drivers would be overreaching, we do believe teen-drivers
often learn behaviors from their parents, who may be multitasking [talking,
texting and e-mailing] while driving. We
note that it is illegal in Michigan for any driver to text while driving and
believe it’s important for parents to set a good example.
Michigan roads are a
bit safer today thanks to Kelsey’s Law.
Yet, one has to wonder how much safer Michigan roads could be if
experienced drivers took heed of the new law, even though it does not apply to
As the bumper sticker
says, “Get off the phone and drive!”
Labels: criminal defense lawyer, Kelsey Raffaele, motor vehicle code, Roberto Bihar, texting