Texting While Driving Kills

Representing injured people and the families of those who have been fatally injured is my passion.  However, I'm even more passionate about preventing those injuries and deaths.  Please watch the short video below.  More importantly, please show it to young people who may not realize how texting, while driving, kills.  In more general terms, "distracted driving" kills.

 

Faces of Distracted Driving: Margay Schee, 13

 

On September 23, 2008, 13-year-old Margay Schee was riding home from school when a semi-truck slammed into the back of her school bus. She was killed when rescuers were unable to get her out of the burning wreckage. The truck driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of crash and said he never saw the bus.

Margay's mother, Elissa Schee, is a founding board member of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov

Sexting and the Law (Part One)


Sexting
  

         Yikes!  Sexting may
sound harmless but it is far from it! 
Sexting can land the sender in prison for a felony and can
cause that person to have to register as a sex offender for the rest
of his or her natural life!  This is no
laughing matter and the powers-that-be (i.e. police and prosecutors) take
sexting very, very seriously.

            What,
exactly, is sexting? Well, according to Wikipedia, “Sexting is
the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between
mobile phones."

            In
California,
Sexting is made a crime by Penal Code Section
288.2
which basically says that it’s a crime to send a message to a minor
if the message is intended to arouse or seduce the minor.  This crime applies even if the sender is himself or herself a minor and that minor can be prosecuted!

            Although we all
know that a minor in California
is defined as someone who is less than 18 years of age, click here to read www.sexlaws.org‘s interesting discussion of
California Statutory Rape.

            What
are the consequences?  Well, for starters
up to three years in prison.  Then,
pursuant to California
Penal Code Section 290
, someone convicted of Penal Code Section 288.2 shall
be required to register as a sex offender. 
For life!

            Recent Arrests of Alleged Sexting Violators


Sexting teen austin butler ABC News: A Stockton student was arrested on suspicion of "sexting" - sending
inappropriate sexual material via text  – to a minor, according to a
school district spokesperson. 

The arrested teen was identified as Austin Butler, 18. "Apparently the evidence suggested that the texting back and forth had been sufficient to establish a pattern," said Lee.


Sexting ione police department CBS News:
An accused serial sexter" is behind bars for allegedly harassing hundreds of women with offensive text messages.

Police say there are victims across California and at least two other states.

Steven Sharp, 30, was arrested at his home in Hayward, California after the Ione Police Department conducted a sting operation. A
police officer apparently posed as a 13-year-old girl, and in one week,
Sharp allegedly made 100 phone calls and sent 2,000 text messages to
her. 

Read about the real life dangers of sexting In Sexting and the Law (Part Two), coming soon.

Questions?
Concerns?

If You, Or Someone You Know, Was Arrested for Sexting

Call For Your Free Consultation

Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger
Immediately at

  (323) 852-1100  or (877) 487-8221

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the
Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

Safe Sober Prom Night: Daggett Shuler Law “Doing it Right”

Great public service video from my friend and colleague, North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney David Daggett.  Life's dreams can be shattered in a single moment.  Don't drink and drive.  Simply put: There are options.  Take a cab; have a designated driver; don't drink.

 Injured? Questions? Concerns? 

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100

lowell@steigerlaw.com

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

Chatroulette is Shockingly (Fill in the Blank) – Is It Legal?

Chatroulette scary

             What is
ChatRoulette?  Sam Anderson describes it
perfectly as “a new website that brings you face-to-face, via webcam, with
an endless stream of random strangers all over the world”
in his New York Magazine article The Human Shuffle. 

I stumbled upon www.chatroulette.com quite by accident
when perusing www.oddee.com and found 18
Funny ChatRoulette Screenshots.  While
I don’t think they were necessarily funny, they were quite interesting.  Screenshots ranged from a justifiably angry
African-American fellow being linked up with a young Arian whose room was
adorned with a Nazi Swastika
flag
(not funny) to a young woman screaming in horror when her chat partner
donned a humorously terrifying mask.

Chatroulette swastika  Chatroulette i will draw you 

   

         What is
this modern technological miracle?  And,
is it legal? 

 Chatroulette pervert

            Apparently
Fox News is worried that ChatRoulette
will become a haven for child predators.  In his Fox News Article Chatroulette Is 'Predators' Paradise',  Joshua
Rhett Miller observes that “One minute you're chatting via
webcam with a mom of two from Montauk, N.Y. — and the next you're staring at a
stark-naked man in Bangkok.”  The site demands
that you swear to be 16 years of age or older before it will let you log on.  However, there is no safeguard to ensure that
those who attest to being over 16 are actually over 16.  

            The legal
issues are very complex because we’re dealing with international cyberlaw,
extradition, who is breaking what laws in which countries.

            Maureen Rogers,
blogging in Pink
Slip
, says that “
It sounds like the
perfect milieu for snuff [films],
kiddie porn, suicide, animal torture… Which means that, as a business, it
would need to be monitored and run by someone other than a 17 year old kid. And
that someone should have deep pockets, because it's hard to believe that there
won't be lawsuits popping up at some point.

A Movie About Chatroulette 

            A fellow by the name of Casey Neistat posted A Movie About Chatroulette on the clever
site Rubbishcorp.  The movie is well worth watching.

            Meanwhile,
prudence dictates that parents monitor what their kids are doing on the
Internet because there are undoubtedly going to be some shockers emanating from
the servers of Chatroulette.

            Chatroulette will ultimately be the
focus of some sort of litigation – stay tuned!

3 Boys Killed in Car Crash After Fleeing From Police

Fontana crash Twitter Address

http://twitter.com/steigerlaw

Folks, today tragedy struck when a 14 year old boy went joyriding along with two passengers aged 11 and 6.  According to a Fox News Report, the event happened in Fontana, California as follows:

A CHP officer pulled over the Nissan Maxima
for running a red light on a Fontana street just before 9 p.m.
Wednesday, but the driver sped off as the officer walked toward the
car, the statement said.

In a chase that
lasted less than a minute, the driver ran several red lights and
reached 90 mph on city streets before losing control and hitting the
wall, the statement said.

All 3 boys were killed.  The question becomes whether or not the police were in hot pursuit and were justified in the chase that ultimately cost the lives of 3 young boys.

If it turns out that the chase was not justified, then the families of the boys will have a wrongful death claim against the Fontana Police Department for their tragic loss. 


The answer(s) to this question will be determined by the internal police investigation, a court of law or both.

Click here to watch the Associated Press news video


Fontana crash 002
When have the police gone too far and did they go too far this time?  Only time and a thorough investigation will tell
.  Meanwhile, the families of the children have a limited time within which to pursue a claim against the governmental entity that may be partially responsible for the tragic loss of their children.  Could the police be trained to react differently in a situation such as this?  Did they have probable cause to believe that the driver and his 6 and 11 year old occupants were a danger on the streets?  Or was the 14 year old driver just a scared child that would have reacted differently if he were not being chased?  What is the Fontana Police Department's protocol in this type of situation and did they follow it?

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at

(323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

High School Teacher Burns Cross on Student’s Arm

Cross_teacher_burns How outrageous is this?  CNN reports that an Ohio high school teacher is being accused of burning a cross on a male teenage student’s arm.  It is shocking to me that the Mount Vernon City School District school administrators are just now beginning the process of firing the teacher.  Shouldn’t they have fired him immediately?  The teacher, John Freshwater, has been teaching eighth-grade science for 21 years in Ohio.  He has been reprimanded several times for refusing to remove his Bible from his classroom desk while simultaneously teaching creationism and evolution.  By the way, he used an electrostatic device to mark the cross on the boy’s arm.  Obviously, this had to be a painful experience.  The mark, however, lasted only three weeks.

There is nothing in the article addressing whether or not this teacher has been criminally charged.  The obvious charges would be for assault and battery.  If I were to represent this boy civilly, my lawsuit would be against the teacher as well as the school district who, from what I read thus far, was on notice of this teacher’s propensity to proselytize (Bible on the desk; teaching creationism and evolution at the same time; teaching that homosexuality is a sin).  The causes of action would be assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence as to the school district based upon their hiring, lack of supervision, lack of control and inadequate training of Freshwater.  This boy’s future is, in my opinion, forever altered by the actions of this religious zealot who has ventured far beyond the scope of decency and and reasonableness.  In fact, what he has done would rise to the level of actions warranting a legal prayer for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are designed to punish and deter.

Related Links

Teaching Intelligent Design and Burning Crosses (Panda’s Thumb)

Mount Vernon City Schools Independent Investigation of a Complaint Regarding John Freshwater (HR on Call, Inc.) — this is an exhaustive investigation of the allegations against Mr. Freshwater.  Read the Entire Report Here

Report: Science Teacher Mixed Religion, Class (The Columbus Dispatch)

Martyr Complex: ‘Persecuted’ Ohio Teacher Should Follow the Constitution (Americans United for Separation of Church and State)

*****************************************************************************************************************************

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

Megan Meier: Myspace Hoax Leads to Teen Girl’s Suicide, Lori Drew Indicted

Myspace_megan_meier This story of the tragic teen suicide of Megan Meier is taken straight from the Associated Press article below.  This beautiful young girl, full of life and promise, killed herself as a result of a MySpace hoax allegedly crafted by Lori Drew, the mother of an ex-friend who wanted to see what Megan was saying about her daughter.  It is alleged that Lori Drew created the persona of "Josh" on MySpace to lure Megan into a false sense of budding romance, to gain her trust, raise her hopes and then destroy her.  Evil, just plain evil.  Born November 6, 1992, Died October 17, 2006.  (See video below)
It is clear that, to the extent possible, parents have to monitor their teenagers’ activities on the Internet.  This is not to say that, in this case, the parents could have prevented their daughter’s tragic suicide but parents must be vigilant in controlling access to the net.  If you scroll to the end of this article, I have added some links to various relevant sites as well as a youtube video dedicated to Megan Meier.
Linda Deutsch
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – A Missouri woman was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Lori_drew_3 Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis, who allegedly helped create a MySpace account in the name of someone who didn’t exist to convince Megan Meier she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans, was charged with conspiracy and fraudulently gaining access to someone else’s computer.

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006, allegedly after receiving a dozen or more cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending.

"The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl’s weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she’s responsible for her actions."

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.

Her attorney, Jim Briscoe, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Thursday.

A man who opened the door at the Drew family home in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., on Thursday said the family had no comment.

Megan’s mother, Tina Meier, told The Associated Press she believed media reports and public outrage helped move the case forward for prosecution.

"I’m thrilled that this woman is going to face charges that she has needed to face since the day we found out what was going on, and since the day she decided to be a part of this entire ridiculous stunt," she said.

Megan’s father, Ron Meier, 38, said he began to cry "tears of joy" when he heard of the indictment. The parents are now separated, which Tina Meier has said stemmed from the circumstances of their daughter’s death.

Tina Meier has acknowledged Megan was too young to have a MySpace account under the Web site’s guidelines, but she said she had been able to closely monitor the account. Meier’s family has also acknowledged that Megan was also sending mean messages before her death.

Megan was being treated for attention deficit disorder and depression, her family has said. Meier has said Drew knew Megan was on medication.

MySpace issued a statement saying it "does not tolerate cyberbullying" and was cooperating fully with the U.S. attorney.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

"This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O’Brien said at a Los Angeles press conference.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County.

Due to juvenile privacy rules, the U.S. attorney’s office said, the indictment refers to the girl as M.T.M.

FBI agents in St. Louis and Los Angeles investigated the case, Hernandez said.

Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and then moved to Los Angeles for trial.

The indictment says MySpace members agree to abide by terms of service that include, among other things, not promoting information they know to be false or misleading; soliciting personal information from anyone under age 18 and not using information gathered from the Web site to "harass, abuse or harm other people."

Drew and others who were not named conspired to violate the service terms from about September 2006 to mid-October that year, according to the indictment. It alleges they registered as a MySpace member under a phony name and used the account to obtain information on the girl.

Drew and her coconspirators "used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member," the indictment charged.

The indictment contends they committed or aided in a dozen "overt acts" that were illegal, including using a photograph of a boy that was posted without his knowledge or permission.

They used "Josh" to flirt with Megan, telling her she was "sexi," the indictment charged.

Around Oct., 7, 2006, Megan was told "Josh" was moving away, prompting the girl to write: "aww sexi josh ur so sweet if u moved back u could see me up close and personal lol."

Several days later, "Josh" urged the girl to call and added: "i love you so much."

But on or about Oct. 16, "Josh" wrote to the girl and told her "in substance, that the world would be a better place without M.T.M. in it," according to the indictment.

The girl hanged herself the same day, and Drew and the others deleted the information in the account, the indictment said.

Last month, an employee of Drew, 19-year-old Ashley Grills, told ABC’s "Good Morning America" she created the false MySpace profile but Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan.

Grills said Drew suggested talking to Megan via the Internet to find out what Megan was saying about Drew’s daughter, who was a former friend.

Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with "Josh" because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace," Grills told the morning show.

Megan’s death was investigated by Missouri authorities, but no state charges were filed because no laws appeared to apply to the case.

Related Links

Megan Meier Police Report (The Smoking Gun)

Protect Kids on MySpace (CBS News)

Why Be Concerned about MySpace and Other Such Sites? (Wiredsafety.org)

A Parent’s Guide to MySpace (a book by Larry Dale)

MySpace Agrees to Protect Children from Sexual Predators (The Plain Dealer)

Who’s Talking to Your Kids Online? (Consumer Reports)

About Teen Suicide (Kidshealth.org)

Teenage Suicide (Wikipedia)

Some Things You Should Know About Preventing Teen Suicide (American Academy of Pediatrics)

And the list goes on and on.  You can google teen suicide or MySpace protecting children to find even more articles about this devastating subject.

13-year-old Megan met Josh at MySpace. Their friendship blossomed until one day Josh turned vicious. Megan killed herself. But it wasn’t Josh who had attacked her online. Watch this youtube video:

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The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com

New Cell Phone Laws for California as of July 1, 2008: Watch the Video and Read the Text

Drivingoncellphoneandeating Well folks, here's the low down on the new California cell phone laws that go into effect on July 1, 2008 taken directly from the DMV Website.  Whatever you do, do NOT drive while holding your cell phone – you need to be using hands free technology.  And please, please don't text while driving.

Watch the DMV Video by Clicking Here

 

Update: 2009 Law Bans Text Messaging while Driving – See Video

Two new laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving go into effect July 1, 2008. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning these new laws.

Q: When do the new wireless telephone laws take effect?
A: The new laws take effect July 1, 2008.

Q: What is the difference between the two laws?
A: The first prohibits all drivers from using a hand held wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device." Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

Q: What if I need to use my telephone during an emergency, and I do not have a "hands-free" device?
A: The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.

Q: What are the fines(s) if I’m convicted?
A: The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With the addition of penalty assessments, the fines can be more than triple the base fine amount.

Q: Will I receive a point on my driver license if I’m convicted for a violation of the wireless telephone law?
A: No. The violation is a reportable offense, however, DMV will not assign a violation point.

Q: Will the conviction appear on my driving record?
A: Yes, but the violation point will not be added.

Q: Will there be a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: No. The law becomes effective July 1, 2008. Whether a citation is issued is always at the discretion of the officer based upon his or her determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.

Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: No. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.

Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my hand held wireless telephone?
A: Yes. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.

Q: What if my phone has a push-to-talk feature, can I use that?
A: No. The law does provide an exception for those operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (excluding pickups), implements of husbandry, farm vehicle or tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a “push-to-talk” feature. However, a push-to-talk feature attached to a hands-free ear piece or other hands-free device is acceptable.

Q: What other exceptions are there?
A: Operators of an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment are exempt, as are those motorists operating a vehicle on private property.


DRIVERS 18 AND OVER

Drivers 18 and over will be allowed to use a "hands-free" device to talk on their wireless telephone while driving. The following FAQs apply to those motorists 18 and over.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.

Bluetoothheadsetreview

Q: Will it be legal to use a Bluetooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.

Q: Does the new "hands-free" law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text message while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Sending text messages while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.


DRIVERS UNDER 18

Q: Am I allowed to use my wireless telephone "hands-free?"
A: No. Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even "hands-free." EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire or medical authorities (VC §23124).

Q: Why is the law stricter for provisional drivers?
A: Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless devices, which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.

Q: Can my parents give me permission to allow me to use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: No. The only exception is an emergency situation that requires you to call a law enforcement agency, a health care provider, the fire department or other emergency agency entity.

Q: Does the law apply to me if I’m an emancipated minor?
A: Yes. The restriction applies to all licensed drivers who are under the age of 18.

Q: If I have my parent(s) or someone age 25 years or older in the car with me, may I use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: No. You may only use your wireless telephone in an emergency situation.

Q: Will the restriction appear on my provisional license?
A: No.

Q: May I use the hands-free feature while driving if my car has the feature built in?
A: No. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any type of wireless device while driving, except in an emergency situation.

Q: Can a law enforcement officer stop me for using my "hands-free" device while driving?
A: For drivers under the age of 18, this is considered a SECONDARY violation meaning that a law enforcement officer may cite you for using a "hands-free" wireless device if you were pulled over for another violation. However, the prohibition against using a hand held wireless device while driving is a PRIMARY violation for which a law enforcement officer can pull you over.

**************************************************************************************************

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at lowell@steigerlaw.com

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

www.steigerlaw.com