New Jersey Teen Sentenced to Five Years for Fatal Texting Accident

18-year-old Samuel Oltmans of Montgomery has been sentenced to five years in prison for a fatal accident on Route 206 that occurred when he was texting while driving.

Oltmans was 17 at the time of the crash on December 22, 2012. At 11 p.m., he had just left a friend’s party at which he was illegally drinking beer. Talking on his cell phone and texting as he drove, he crossed the double yellow line and crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Laurie O’Neil, 61, of Franklin Township.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four hours after the accident, Oltman’s blood-alcohol level was tested to be about .067 percent, leading investigators to conclude that he was drunk at the time of the accident. The legal limit for adults in New Jersey is .08 percent. Under New Jersey law, drivers under 21 are prohibited from driving with any detectable alcohol in their systems.

Superior Court Judge Robert Reed said the case showed the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving, which he called “driving blind.”From the bench, he urged young people to refrain from texting while driving: “For God’s sake, stop it, lest you stand where Sam Oltmans stands today.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nine people die every day in the US due to “distracted driving.”This includes texting while driving, using a phone while driving, and other activities such as eating, shaving, putting on makeup, and changing radio stations while driving.

Oltman’s five-year sentence is based on a plea bargain in which he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and other vehicular offenses.

His lawyer had sought a reduced sentence, claiming that there is “a biological and a psychological limitation” for teenagers and that “they do not think on the level that adults do.” She also said that Oltmans was experiencing a “distressful period of his life,” at the time of the crash.

Judge Reed rejected the request for a reduced sentence and said that he intended to speak to Oltman “man to man” about what he had done.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, including an accident caused by a drunk or distracted driver, contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C.