Stupidity Of Texting While Driving Laws Revealed In Virginia
Back when North Dakota was debating laws making texting while driving illegal I argued against them pointing out that laws punishing reckless driving were already on the books. My criticism, along with the criticism of others, was ignored and this state plunged ahead and passed the law anyway largely because such laws have become a political fad nationally with high-wattage celebrities like Oprah backing them.
But in Virginia the stupidity of such legislation has been revealed. In a case where one driver faced reckless driving charges related to the death of another motorist based on evidenced showing he was texting while driving, the judge threw out the charges noting that Virginia’s legislators had made texting while driving a much less serious offense by passing a specific law targeting it.
A 2009 Virginia law makes texting while driving a minor traffic infraction punishable by a maximum fine of $20, so texting alone could not be proof of reckless driving.
Gallahue, in an unusual move from the bench, left no doubt where he thought the problem resided: Virginia’s General Assembly.
“I think you are driving recklessly,” Gallahue said, according to a trial transcript, “but the legislature has said texting is something way less than that.”
The outcome stunned Rowley’s parents and prompted them to call for a change in Virginia law so a similar situation is not repeated.
This is the danger of knee-jerk, “there oughta be a law” legislating. Some seem to think that we need laws addressing every pet peeve of theirs, and they aren’t often swayed by facts or data to the contrary.
The law is a tricky thing, and far too often we add to it based on the emotions of the moment rather than the cool consideration of a) the need for the law (if any exists) and b) the long term implications.
Whether we’re layering on more laws and bureaucracy to address distracted driving or bullying or smoking or any of the other “there oughta be a law” issues, we should remember that less is usually more.Tags: Asshats, nanny statism, Texting, texting while driving