They Can Pry My Cellphone out of My Cold Dead Hand

Posted: June 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

First of all I have two confessions. 1.)I agree that people shouldn’t text while they drive. 2.) I text while I drive.

I know I shouldn’t. But like every person who has ever texted, tweeted or even talked on a cellphone I believe I can handle it.  I don’t do it often, but I do it. The communications are generally very short; “k” in response to my wife’s text to pick up a couple gallons of vodka…er, milk. I don’t tap out “War and Peace” or the preamble to the constitution on my Black Berry. But I have been alarmed to notice others who appear to be writing the next great American novel from behind the wheel of a hurtling mass of metal on I 696. Those people ought to be stopped.

Which I guess brings us to the “texting while driving” ban that goes into effect Thursday. If a cop sees you engaged in the activity of reading or sending a text that officer can pull you over and give you a ticket for $100 dollars for the first offense, $200 for subsequent offenses.

There. that should fix it.  But of course it won’t. People will still text. And if they get stopped we will have a whole new breed of problem to deal with:


I had an interesting conversation yesterday on our 6:00 newscast with a Michigan State Police Lieutenant who said the problem shouldn’t come up since people will generally confess to texting when confronted with the irrefutable evidence that “I saw you”. With all due respect to the officer, I believe he’s watched far too many episodes of Perry Mason where the guy in the back of the courtroom stands up and yells “I did it” before the end of the show.

I don’t think people are going to be quick to confess and hand over 100 or 200 dollars. Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackell says without probable cause, officers won’t be able to confiscate a driver’s phone to see if they were texting, and the effort to subpoena records may not be worth the $100 dollar fine that may eventually be recovered.

Plus, as a journalist I get all kinds of heebie jeebies when I think about  law enforcement types getting their little anti first amendment mitts on my cell phone. What happens if they go through my phone numbers, emails and texts and discover that Joe L. Jones down in records is the one slipping me all the dirt on that police overtime scandal that I’ve been reporting on.  Ooooops, did I just say that out loud? Well, anyway, you get the point.

The bottom line here is there are going to be all kinds of problems enforcing this new texting ban. For that reason alone it’s probably not a very good law.

However, on the up-side,  it may actually get people to think twice before they stick their nose into the cell phone and start tapping out Moby Dick with their thumbs. At least they’ll look around first. So back to my headline which I adapted from the anti-gun control people:

They Can Pry My Cellphone out of My Cold Dead Hand.

We all just hope it never comes to that… in any sense of the phrase.



  1. Nila Clark says:

    I am so glad you admitted this, Cuz! I know it’s wrong, but I do it too! It isn’t illegal here in WV…yet. Maybe there is a 12-Step for us out there???

  2. Joe Gaglio says:

    Hi Steve,
    Although I agree that texting while driving may be hazardous, so is eating. Why haven’t we attacked the fast food industry? I remember the days I spent on the road racing from customer to customer, quickly grabbing something to eat and drink while driving with my knee. Tell me that’s not dangerous. Where do we draw the line?

  3. I truly agree with you about “They Can Pry My Cellphone out of My Cold Dead Hand” ..

    My blackberry is in a sense my lifeline. I was just discussing this with a friend yesterday
    about the concept of someone trying to look at your cell phone & possibly looking through phone numbers of important & private high profile people, plus text messages to say the least & addresses.

    I must confess that yes I do text on occasion when driving, but I am getting better at trying not to (lol) & here in CA, you can bend over & kiss your butt goodbye with the cost of a ticket for texting, much less talking on the phone while driving. Big NO NO’s here.

    For those of us who lead busy lives, our cell phones are Priceless. We do our emails, texts, video & so much more. Yep “They Can Pry My Cellphone out of My Cold Dead Hand” … cause that is the only way anyone is going to get it.

  4. Tom Nixon says:

    I do not see any way conceivable that they can prove one was texting. For one, I am also guilty…but not of texting. I do e-mail on my phone. From what I’ve read, this poorly written law does not apply to email…only texts. I also do some surfing the Web…again, not referenced in the law. I may also be looking up a phone number to dial…not texting, and not against the law.

    So how does this law apply to anyone, and how is it provable? Good ole’ government…(to quote philosopher Homer J. Simpson).

    Great post, though, Stephen.

  5. dmkellman says:

    Love the Zepplin reference.

  6. Watty says:

    I tweet while driving too on occasion (I’m getting better!) but an issue with me is driving to locations and having to look at my phone at the map on my blackberry. Granted, 90% of the time they’re sending me in the wrong direction, I’m not texting when I’m on the interstate usually, just trying to figure out if it was exit 206 or 216.

  7. Joni Golden says:

    After almost being sideswiped by a woman who couldn’t take her fingers off her phone, I’ve come to believe that texting and driving poses a danger to others. Even if the texting ban hadn’t passed, I’d still be putting the phone down.

    Laws don’t keep people from doing stupid stuff. They penalize texting drivers when they get caught weaving all over the road, and they enhance the penalties and costs when texting and driving causes an accident, injury or death. Which is usually what it takes for people to stop doing stupid stuff.

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