Here's a sneak preview of our Tuesday editorial on Idaho's texting-while-driving law.
Law enforcement agencies have given you the benefit of the doubt. And then some. They could have come out in full force on July 1, writing citations for texting while driving.
But instead of writing citations, which carry fines and court costs of $81.50, they said they first wanted to educate drivers about the new law.
OK, drivers, consider yourself educated.
But this law didn’t sneak up on you.
Legislators spent three winters delaying and debating, failing to do the obvious and the easy. A texting bill finally passed the Legislature this winter, signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter on April 5. But while many newly minted laws have “emergency clauses” that make them effective upon signing, this bill had no such language — giving you the better part of three months to get up to speed.
Of course, anti-texting laws aren’t a new thing. Frustrated by the Legislature’s failure to act, the Meridian City Council passed a city ordinance in November 2010.
So maybe you don’t really pay too much attention to state or local politics. If you watch any amount of television, you’ve surely seen the public service announcements designed to discourage texting and driving.
The message, as if the fact wasn’t already readily apparent, is that texting while driving is a distraction that can keep you from making the split-second decisions that can prevent an accident or save a life.
Yes, you know texting while driving is dangerous.
And now you know it’s illegal.
Police officers have gone easy on you, so far.
Boise police issued two texting-while-driving citations in July. Ditto for the Ada County sheriff’s office.
The Nampa Police Department has — by relative and modest standards — been busy writing citations, issuing five in July. But even Nampa police tried to cut texters a little slack; before launching a two-hour saturation patrol to go after texters, police used social media to get the word out beforehand. (What more could you want? A personalized text from the police? Talk about defeating the purpose.)
We don’t blame law enforcement agencies for playing good cop.
After all, the texting law isn’t just new; it’s also a little bit confusing. The law allows texting at a red light or stop sign, but not while a car is in motion.
But it’s been a month.
If you get a ticket now, you have no one to complain to.
Especially when an $81.50 ticket is nothing compared to the risks.