|Alabama: To Text and Drive, That is the Question
||[Sep. 17th, 2009|11:08 pm]
|Senator Paul Sanford and Representative Phil Williams have both used Facebook to discuss upcoming legislation in both chambers of the Alabama Congress
Twice in less than two months, members of the Alabama Congress, both in the House and in the Senate have asked their constituents what they think of making texting while driving illegal in the State of Alabama. Both Senator Paul Sanford
(R-Huntsville) and Representative Phil Williams
(R-Huntsville) have taken to the social network Facebook
to pose the issue and dialog with folks back home.
The sentiment overwhelmingly appears to be that people of both of these gentlemen's districts have two issue with the idea: first, they view it as a violation of privacy (Fourth Amendment
) and secondly they think citizens could be falsely accused and punished too severely (Sixth
News Platoon's Professor Tom
had this to say to both candidates:
I would take a look and see how often a citation for reckless driving is given when it is not warranted, i.e. trumped up charges, etc. While the point is to deter certain behavior by making it prohibitive, I would also be wary of creating a way for local law enforcement to strong-arm innocent civilians.
I liken this to getting popped for so-called "sexting" or substance abuse with pot as a minor. Once the charge is on the record, despite whether or not the individual has reformed and become a productive member of society, that charge can prohibit the individual of achieving their goals.
Now it could be argued that they should know better to begin with and I'm not arguing for a catch-and-release program. What I am advocating is justice on both sides.
Yes, texting that results in a wreck in which someone is seriously injured might ought to be consider reckless driving/vehicular manslaughter. On the other hand, what you don't want is two things: 1)To create a situation where a person's reputation can be damaged because of a bogus charge due to an unchecked law enforcement and 2)punishing the individual after they have paid their debt to society.
I don't think coming up with the basic premise of the legislation is going to be the hard part. What's going to be difficult is looking at the bill as well as existing laws and figuring out how to secure the bills from loophole that will result in injustice.
But not everyone was looking at the fine points of lawmaking. Some were just concerned with bottom line costs and argued that if a texting driver is at-fault in a wreck, they ought to be required to cover the cost of the entire wreck. Others argued for mandating headsets vs. allowing people to hold their phones.
All in all, despite being on a public road in an translucent enclosure, there is a certain amount of privacy expected on the road. One does not expect to have dictated to them what they can or cannot wear inside their vehicle (though all are expected to be clothed to a certain degree.) One does not expect to give up control of what they do or do not listen to within the confines of their own vehicle unless they are playing their music too loud. One certainly does not expect the government to have the right to spy on the activities inside a privately owned vehicle especially when no traffic laws are being violated.
People of Alabama, it's time for you to speak up on this issue. What do you think about banning texting while driving in our fair State?
For those of you not in Alabama, what does your State do? Do you approve or disapprove? Why or why not?
Originally published at http://alabama.newsplatoon.com/2009/09/17/alabama-to-text-and-drive-that-is-the-question/