Michigan Woman Gets Rare Sentence for Fatal Bike Crash

Michigan Woman Gets Rare Sentence

Judge Bans Cell Phone During Probation

The Michigan State Police reports that distracted driving is the leading factor in most crashes or near crashes.

Mitzi Nelson, 23, was sentenced this week after pleading to a misdemeanor charge for her part in a fatal accident. Last fall, Nelson’s car struck and killed bicyclist, Jill Byelich, 32, near DeWitt, Michigan. The sentence has been making headlines.

It was Jill Byelich’s husband who suggested the part of the sentence that has caught media attention. Jordan Byelich suggestion was that while on probation Nelson go without a cell phone or another portable communication device.

Judge Stewart McDonald told the Detroit Free Press,

“I don’t think she has a right to have a cell phone. I think it’s a privilege.”

Judge McDonald said that he hopes this sentence will help to deter others from using their cell phones while behind the wheel.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Nelson’s sentence also includes two years of probation, up to 90 days in jail, 150 hours of community service and she will have to speak at 20 diver’s education classes, explaining the dangers of distracted driving. She was also ordered to pay at least $15,600 in restitution and $1,500 in fines, fees, and costs.

Husband Offers Forgiveness

As Nelson was leaving to court room, Jordan Byelich offered the woman responsible for his wife’s death a hug. During the trial, Byelich told the judge that he believes she was remorseful. WILX.com quoted Jordan Byelich as saying:

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a moving on from this, but we’re going to do the best that we can to continue on with our lives.”

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving doesn’t just include using a cell phone. According to the Michigan State Police there three types of distraction,

  1. Visual: When you take your eyes off the road.
  2. Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel.
  3. Cognitive: When you take your mind off of what you are doing.

Distracted driving actives include:

  • Using a cell phone,
  • Talking to passengers,
  • Grooming,
  • Watching a video,
  • Changing the radio,
  • Drinking and eating,
  • Using a navigation system,
  • Reading.

The Rare Sentence: Cell Phone Banning

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Michigan Judge ban the use of cell phones. Back in March I wrote an article about three teens who were sentenced to three years without cell phones.

While the banning of cell phone is the only link in these two cases, it’s interesting to note the link itself.

The case in March had to do with a distributing cell phone picture of a 15-year old engaged in a sexual act. The picture was taken and sent to others. It wasn’t long before the picture ended up on twitter. Remember that the transmit of a sexual image of an underage person is illegal.

Two of the teenagers were also charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct. The third was charged with child sexual abusive activity – distributing or promotion. For more about this case read Three Teens Sentenced to Three Years Without Cell Phones.

Your Turn

What do you think about judges banning cell phones as a part of sentencing? Let me know your thoughts in the co