A new type of cell phone ban

Janelle Green

Governor Arnold Schwarz-enegger signed a bill in Sacramento on Sept. 24 that will make reading or sending a text message while driving illegal for all Californians.

The law will be effective on January 1, 2009.

On July 1, the California State Legislature passed the hands-free law that states that using a hands-on cellular device is against the law.

The first law specifically bans minors from operating any hands-on electronical device but it fails to illegalize text messaging for those eighteen and older as well.

“Obviously the government cares about us,” Davis Moore, 34, psychology said. “Sometimes small mistakes can turn into a fatal mistake.”

First time offenders will be ticketed for $20. Every following offense will cost $50.

“Twenty dollars isn’t enough to get the message across to teens,” Sarah Jameson, 18, undecided said. “That’s a joke. I could afford to be caught a few times before deciding to wait to respond to a text.”

California isn’t the only state passing the law.

Managing your text messages while driving will be illegal in Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington beginning next year.

“Safety is important to our government,” Jacob Trody, 21, business, said. “You could be a very good driver, but when you allow your cell phone to distract you, accidents happen.”

The bill, which is authored by Democratic State Sen. Joe Simitian, is intended to make California’s roads a safer place, but some students don’t agree with the law because they feel that it will limit their rights on the road.

“You can drink your Starbucks while driving,” Tawny Alvarez, 19, photography said. “That’s one-handed, but it’s still legal.”

Whether or not an officer can tell whether or not a person is in fact text messaging while driving leaves students confused and wondering just how the law will work.

“How can they tell?” Alvarez said. “Maybe you’re just looking down, they can’t be sure.”

Because the law has not yet passed, some people worry that others will remain oblivious until the final day.

“They should have included text messaging in the July cell phone law,” Moore said. “Now people are going to take advantage of their rights until the first of the year.”

“It’s still just as dangerous today as it will be on the first.” Moore said.

Law enforcement officials plan to enforce the law immediately. “The uncertainty will more than likely cause tension and unnecessary problems for licensed drivers,” Moore said. “But because the bill passed, there’s no point in arguing the facts or reading between the lines in order to get away with doing something illegal.”