A Torrance, Calif. mother was arrested and charged with child endangerment after police caught her driving on the freeway with a baby on her lap while texting.
A statement from the Torrance Police Department notes that a concerned citizen spotted Shawndeeia Bowen on the 405 freeway, called police and then tailed Bowen to keep track of her whereabouts.
When Bowen was pulled over, she still had her cellphone in hand and the baby on her lap. To make mattes worse, a 2- and 4-year-old were in the backseat with no seat belts on.
After she was arrested, police discovered that Bowen was driving on a suspended license and was on five years of probation for a child abuse charge she pleaded no contest to in 2010, reports ABC Los Angeles.
DMV records also show that Bowen has been previously cited for several road violations, including driving without insurance or a license plate, not wearing a seat belt or restraining her children, two traffic collisions and not appearing in court nine times, reports KTLA.
Bowen is currently being held on $131,000 bail, and the three children have been placed in the care of the Department of Child and Family Services. Her car was also impounded for 30 days.
The Torrance police released Bowen's story as a cautionary tale in a larger press release about the department's Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign. For the month of April, police will have a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to texting or illegally using a cellphone while driving, and fines start at $159.
In the release, state official Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy said, "Think before you call or text someone. If there is a chance they may be driving, let it wait. It’s not worth it.”
Presumably, warning against driving with an infant on your lap goes without saying.
UPDATE: Bowen pleaded not guilty Thursday to seven misdemeanor counts and three infractions related to her distracted driving arrest. LAist reports that the charges include three counts of child endangerment, two counts of violating a court order and one count each of driving without a license and driving on a suspended license.
She returns to court April 12.
CORRECTION: Shawndeeia Bowen has six children, but only two of the three children in the car on Tuesday were hers. The third was the child of a friend.
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