Vermont Teen Accused of Causing Crash Pleads not Guilty

Vermont Teen Accused of Causing Crash Pleads not GuiltyOn Thursday, August 18, 18-year-old Emma Vieira pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington to a charge brought upon her after an August 7 crash in which another women suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized, the Burlington Free Press reports.

While Vieira was making her plea, 52-year-old Deborah Drewniak was still in critical condition at Fletcher Allen health Care in Burlington, where she is being treated for injuries that authorities claim are “life-altering.”

The accident occurred while Drewniak was walking her dog when Vieira allegedly crashed into her from behind. Colchester police stated that she was originally hit near the right passenger headlight of the 1993 Honda Accord, then was thrown onto the windshield and rolled off, the media outlet stated.

Defense for Vieira stated that “it was an accident,” and that the prosecution will not be able to prove she was texting while driving when the crash occurred, although the court affidavit reportedly shows that there was only one minute between her last text and when she dialed 911, according to the news source.

The court has already ordered that Vieira cannot drive a vehicle until the case is resolved, as prosecution claimed she is not responsible enough to be behind the wheel and would further put pedestrians at risk.

Police reports show that Vieira was allegedly in an exchange of text messages for up to five minutes prior to the accident, the news provider stated.

Officials are reviewing the specifics of the scene of the accident, noting that the speed limit on River Road is 25 miles per hour, and the crash occurred not far from a street light. The car also reportedly had no mechanical problems.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles states that new laws were made effective on June 1, 2010, and specify that “texting while driving” applies to all drivers, while operation of any portable electronic device is illegal for motorists under the age of 18.

The penalties for a texting while driving violation include a $156 fine and an additional two points on their record, while a subsequent adjudication within two years warrants a $329 fine and another five points to be added to a driver’s record.

A study conducted by the University of Vermont found that of the 37,261 people killed in traffic accidents in 2008 nationwide, 5,870 involved driver distraction attributed to cell phones.