POLK COUNTY, Iowa — Lydia George, 20, was sentenced on Thursday for texting while driving causing serious injury. The Polk County Attorney’s Office believes it’s the first case of its kind prosecuted in Iowa.
Officials say George, of Runnells, was driving with two other passengers just South of Mitchellville last October when the crash occurred.
“The two passengers, in this case, realized she was swerving all over the road, they didn’t feel safe and asked her to stop, however, she continued to and ended up going into a ditch,” says Sgt. Brandon Bracelin with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
According to reports, one of those passengers broke her ankle and suffered cuts to her face from the crash.
Police say George admitted she was texting when the crash happened.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that someone’s been charged with serious injury by vehicle due to texting while driving,” says Sgt. Bracelin.
George was granted a deferred judgment and given two years of probation. She was also ordered by the judge to complete a driver’s improvement course and complete 140 hours of community service, 40 of which must include raising public awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.
Drake University criminal law expert, Bob Rigg says he expects this type of charge to be more common in the years to come.
“You are going to see law enforcement looking harder in situations where accidents result and probably a prosecutor is more inclined to file criminal charges based on some type of distracted driving,” says Rigg.
Sgt. Bracelin says the number rear end collisions and single vehicle accidents increased when smartphones became popular.
He’s hoping this case will encourage people to put their phone down when they’re behind the wheel.
“Do yourself a favor, do everybody else a favor and please pay attention to the road while you`re driving, there`s nothing so important you have to text it while you`re going down the road,” says Sgt. Bracelin.