Last week, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue publicly expressed concern that a bill outlawing texting while driving would be too difficult to enforce and might suffer from constitutional infirmities. However, as happens more frequently than not, the governor went ahead and signed the bill anyway. This illustrates perfectly the story once told by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that “although mankind might occassionally trip over the truth, it usually picks itself up, dusts itself off and continues on its merry way.”
Perdue’s bout of constitutional concern lasted only a few days before he succumbed to the public pressure to criminalize yet another activity. In outlawing texting while driving, Georgia joins about two dozen other states that have similarly caught the anti-texting craze, being pushed at the national level by our federal transportation nanny, Ray LaHood. Republican state legislators have shown themselves especially vulnerable to entreaties from citizen groups to enact such laws.
If a driver causes an accident because he or she is distracted by using their cell phone, their Blackberry, or any other device or object, laws in every state make them already liable for any resulting damage or injury; possibly including criminal charges. Empowering law enforcement to stop and ticket drivers simply for texting, regardless of whether such a distraction causes an accident, is the sort of criminal-law overkill becoming the norm in Georgia and elsewhere. After all, why leave it at one law criminalizing behavior, when you can have two; or three; or four?