As the weather warms and we get closer to school letting out for the summer, communities all over Texas are sure to see an increase in the number of bicyclists on the roads. As the Texas Department of Transportation notes, bicyclists have all of the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.
Motorists in Texas, however, must exercise a greater degree of caution as even a moment of distraction can result in a possibly fatal accident. Georgetown residents were reminded of this truth in January when a 19-year-old cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
KVUE-TV reported on January 27 that Georgetown police said they had arrested and charged a 20-year-old man in connection to that hit-and-run death. Police told KEYE-TV that the man turned himself in after realizing he was responsible for the death. The alleged offender’s attorney told KEYE that the accident was “an instance of distracted driving,” saying his client dropped his cell phone while driving.
KXAN-TV reported on January 29 that more than 500 cyclists participated in a 25-mile ride through Georgetown in remembrance of the 19-year-old cyclist killed in the accident. “This event is important because the greater cycling community is showing support for how dangerous distracted driving is, not only for cyclists, but for everybody,” cyclist Bobby Crouch told KXAN.
Texas is one of four states that do not have a statewide ban on texting and driving, but House Bill 62 and Senate Bill 31 in the Texas Legislature would result in violators being fined up to $99 for a first offense and $200 for any subsequent offense. State Representative Tom Craddick has previously sponsored similar measures that passed the House but failed in the Senate in 2013 and 2015, and a 2011 distracted driving bill got through both chambers before being vetoed by then-Governor Rick Perry.
Lawyer for Hit-and-Run Arrests in Georgetown, TX
When we think of distracted driving, many people immediately envision motorists attempting to type and send text messages or emails while operating motor vehicles. In truth, distracted driving encompasses a much broader variety of activities that involve people taking their eyes off the road.
The alleged offender in the Georgetown case claims that the fatal accident he caused was the result of him trying to pick up a phone he dropped. Texas Transportation Code § 550.023 requires the operators of vehicles involved in accidents that result or reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person to do all of the following:
- Give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
- If requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and
- Provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 states that in the case of an accident involving personal injury or death, the operator of the vehicle involved in the accident must:
- Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
- Immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
- Immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and
- Remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Texas Transportation Code § 550.023.
If an alleged offender does not comply with the requirements of this statute, he or she can be charged with a second-degree felony if the accident results in the death of a person. A conviction can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If you believe that you could be under investigation or you were already arrested for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury to or the death of a bicyclist in Williamson County, you will want to make sure that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Georgetown who can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.