Friday, October 2, 2009

Unenforceable Legislation

Maryland recently changed the law to ban the use of text messaging while driving an automobile. This law went into effect on October 1, 2009. Though that is not the entire story. The law only bans the sending of text messages. It does not prohibit the reading / review of incoming text messages. Also, the law does not prohibit the use of cell phones for normal calling use. The officer will have to witness a person typing a text message to another in order to actually enforce this law. This law is unenforceable.

What is to stop a person from claiming that they were merely making a phone call or reading a text message when the officer witnessed them looking at their phone? The officer can not prove whether or not the person is telling the truth and can not merely take a person's cell phone. Unless the person is driving recklessly while texting, which is a different fine altogether, there is no way this can be enforced.

As I have mentioned in the past, we can not begin to micromanage people's lives. You can't legislate intelligence. Drivers must learn how to deal with distractions, it's not something you can regulate. Texting while driving is a massive distraction and unsafe, but if a person drives recklessly then the crime is reckless driving. Enforce the law as written and, perhaps, increase penalties for those who drive recklessly while using their cell phone.

I for one hope that in the future our state legislature and our Governor review the laws they are voting upon. Try to determine the enforcability of such legislation. If the point was to make the roads safer with fewer people texting while driving - then they have failed. If instead this was an attempt to raise state revenue, then they also failed. Even if a person is fined for driving while texting, the defense is so simple and difficult to disprove that a person with a competent lawyer should be able to readily fight such a charge with ease.

Once again, this law is unenforceable and I hope our legislators learn from this mistake.

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