Sunday, May 6, 2018

D.U.I. (Driving Under Imbecility)

The other day, while my wife and I were on the freeway (she was driving), I noticed that after the person passed us on the left, they drifted partially into our lane then swerved back into their own.

Now, if you were a police officer and witnessed this, you might flash your blue and reds and pull the person over. You might also give the person a breathalyzer test due to the erratic driving. But, most likely, you would not be able to arrest this particular person for driving under the influence of alcohol. You see, as this person was passing us they were looking down at the phone in their lap.

What?!? You mean someone was texting (or Facebooking, or Twittering, or whatevering) while driving?!?

Hard to believe, I know, but true.

In the State of Ohio, it is illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving. If you are over the age of 18 this is considered a secondary law. This means that a police officer has to have another reason to pull a driver over other than texting. If you are under the age of 18 it is a primary law, which means they don’t need another reason to pull you over.

So, if you are weaving or driving erratically a police officer can pull you over. But here is where it gets tricky. Just because you are driving erratically does NOT mean you were texting. You could have been drinking. Or you could have been dealing with Mayhem under your seat.

If the officer smells alcohol on you, they have a few options to prove you were driving under the influence. One of these is a breathalyzer. However, they cannot force you to take a breathalyzer test right there. You can refuse it. Of course, this is much like pleading the Fifth; which makes you “guilty” regardless of the truth.

If, on the other hand, you were texting and driving, it is much more difficult for the officer to prove. First off, they have to have seen you with your phone in your hand. And you are too savvy to get caught doing that. That is why you drive looking at your lap. You aren’t stupid enough to hold the phone up in view. (I’m clearly being sarcastic here.)

What if the officer asks you to hand over your phone? Can they take it to prove whether or not you were using it while you were driving? Nope. A police officer may take your phone if there is reasonable cause, but they may not search the data on the phone without either the driver’s consent OR a warrant.

You see, you have this little thing you can hide behind called “privacy” and there is NO WAY you are going to voluntarily give a police officer the evidence to condemn you for your own stupidity.

And that needs to change right now.

When I was a kid the police cars used to have the words, “To Serve And Protect” emblazoned on them. If those words are true, they should ABSOLUTELY be able to stop a car from driving erratically to protect US.

There should be a simple test available that if a police officer stops you for erratic driving they would be able to TAKE your phone, run the test, and figure out whether or not you’ve been using it. Like a breathalyzer. And if you refuse to hand over your phone, you should IMMEDIATELY be arrested, have your car impounded, and taken to the police station where you can sit and wait for the warrant which would OBVIOUSLY be provided.

Oh, and one major difference between driving under the influence of alcohol and texting: after a period of time the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream will go down - so if you can delay the time between the traffic stop and the breathalyzer long enough, your blood/alcohol level may drop enough to be proven "not guilty". But your phone? Baby, that shtuff is out there FOREVER!

And if you WERE texting and driving?!? That should be a felony charge. You want to put your life at risk? Go to prison. Just don’t stay on the road and put OUR lives at risk.

Make up your damn minds. If you want to text, text. If you want to drive, drive. If that Facebook post is so important, pull your car over and take care of it. Just don’t do both at the same time. Because, regardless of how good a multitasker you think you may be, in reality, you suck at it.

I’m reminded of a Gallagher routine where he thinks we should be driving with those rubber-tipped dart guns we had as a kid. Whenever we see someone driving like an idiot we could lean out and shoot a dart at their car with a flag that says, “IDIOT!” A cop sees you driving down the road with a half-dozen flags on the trunk of your car, they pull you over and give you a ticket for being an A**HOLE!!

For some people, they wouldn’t be able to see past the flags.

© Emittravel 2018

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