Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No More Texting and Driving

     Texting while your vehicle is in motion is now illegal and can subject you to a $50.00 fine.  Title 75 has been modified to add the definition of a "Interactive wireless communications device” or “IWCE.)   The definition if an “Interactive Wireless Communications Device” includes devices that can be used for voice communication, texting, e-mailing, browsing the internet or instant messaging but specifically excludes a device being used exclusively as a global positioning or navigation system; a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle; or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.

     Section 3316 of Title 75 was amended to prohibit a driver from operating a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic way while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion.  This does not apply when you are placing or ending a telephone call.

     A "text-based communication" means a text message, instant message, electronic mail or other written communication composed or received on an interactive wireless communications device.
This can be a primary offense which, like failing to wear your seatbelt, can be the basis for you being stopped by an member of law enforcement.
     Consider these issues with the new law –
1)   It is illegal to send, read or write.  If you are accused of writing or sending a message, we can look at your usage/history to determine if you did or didn’t send a message at a give time as the officer represents.  However, the real curious one is read.  It is presumed that all the officer will needs to say is that he saw a glow of a IWCE and the drivers head was in a position that he was reading the IWCE.  How could you ever prove you weren’t reading a message?  There’s no history of that type of use.

2)   While it’s possible that a website’s content could fall within the definition of “other written communication,” there is no prohibition on surfing the internet while driving. 

3)   There is also a difference between operating and vehicle and it being in motion.  Is being stopped at a red light and checking your email a violation of this new law?  While you are still “operating” your vehicle when you are waiting at the red light, you are certainly not “in motion.”  What about pulling over to the side of the road?  Again, not in motion but likely still operating the vehicle.  Where exactly do “in motion” and “operating” begin and end?

4) This may prove to be an interesting area of law with lots of permeations

Good luck, be careful and I wonder what you think about the law?

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