It’s about to Be Illegal to Phone/Text while Driving in Nevada

by , Sep 26, 2011 | 5:39 am

A new California-like law goes into effect next week in Nevada, making it illegal to text-and-drive, as well as use handheld devices for verbal and non-verbal communications. While it’s not clear to me if truckers got a carveout for CB usage nor where non-verbal communication via middle finger might fall … @JessWelman will likely be disappointed to learn the ban applies at stop signs and stop lights, too (“intelligent multitasking” notwithstanding).

The imminent talk-and-text ban on the Las Vegas Strip and across Nevada will not only have a notable impact on 10s of thousands of local lives … but also gives a good microcosm look at how a bill may or may not become a law. Stuff to think about as we watch the next push for federal online poker legislation this fall.

safety plate

Online Poker Logic
When I first heard about a “distracted driving” bill in Nevada, I was immediately concerned about lives lost and unnecessarily put at risk my future as a photographer of mildly amusing and sometimes pokery license plates. Though I have obtained many of these images with a handheld calling device while driving on Nevada highways, fortunately, using online poker logic, I’m sure I can find a lawyer who will tell me I’m totally in the clear.

nevada license plates

The criminalization of “distracted driving” relies on what really is a rather poorly written bill (in parts); nothing makes it specifically illegal to play mobile cameraman so long as I’m not trying to live stream video while driving … and the law as written really is about the transfer of voice and data over handheld devices — and manually connecting to the internet — not about capturing Twitpics on a handheld device for later distribution on the internet (in a car with automatic transmission).

You know, gray area.

But perhaps most important to my defense … I still have a 214 area code, so even if I were to transfer voice and/or data “illegally”, it wouldn’t be taking place in a Nevada jurisdiction. Right? Unenforceable, obv. All that and Twitter is a game of skill.

Technology & Government Control
The Las Vegas-to-Reno mobile phone ban goes into effect Oct 1, with fines of $50, $150, and $250 coming into play Jan 1, 2012. Just a little bit of prison time (6 years max) if you happen to kill someone.

Personally, I believe the law is too far-reaching in how it gives police authority to determine a driver’s mental acuity. And kinda lame that cops are allowed to talk and text on the cell phones while driving — suggesting that all the safety data quoted to pass this bill mighta been kinda bullshit, no? Either that or law enforcement safety is less important than mine.

But regardless, check out this provision:

7. For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed not to be operating a motor vehicle if the motor vehicle is driven autonomously through the use of artificial-intelligence software and the autonomous operation of the motor vehicle is authorized by law.

Holy crap, we have that!?! If fully legal bot cars coming aren’t reason enough to legalize online poker now, well, OMG, I don’t know what America I’m living in.

Read the lineage of how SB 140 came to be. (Final bill text here.) This is for just a little bill, on the state level … It took three sessions, two governors, and seven individual bills for Nevada to become the 34th state to enact such a texting ban — one that in the end would be strengthened to include a ban on handheld phone convo, too.

Funny thing is … in the time it took to get the bill to the Governor’s desk, a new study came out with data showing that these laws don’t actually work, and in fact have had the opposite effect — increasing crashes and fatalities in three out of four states.

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