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:
HOW DO THE POLICE PROVE YOU’RE TEXTING?
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.