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Nailed and Jailed for DUI

July 16, 2010
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If I don’t change my life-endangering behavior quickly, I will be pulled over, ticketed, fined, and possibly jailed if I repeatedly drive under the influence.

My addiction is not with alcohol or drugs. Indeed, my DUI habit is far worse.

I’ve been driving under the influence of my iPhone, while occasionally high on caffeine consumed from my travel mug. Both are punishable offenses in Michigan, especially city of Troy where my employer, BNP Media, is headquartered.

On July 1, the state of Michigan introduced a ban on texting while driving. While I rarely text when my vehicle is moving, I do read emails while stopped at an intersections. Occasionally, I type a short response. And yes, sometimes I push “send” after the car is in motion.

In the eyes of Michigan law, I am guilty.

Starting July 29, my peril will increase dramatically. The city of Troy substantially upped the ante by passing a "distracted driver ordinance". In addition to texting, drivers caught eating, drinking, reading, writing, grooming, operating a phone that is not hands-free, or distracted by passengers are subject to tickets and fines.

Most of my 20-mile daily commute takes place within Troy’s city limits. I am envisioning a new driving routine whereby I enter my car, clamp down on the steering wheel, stare forward, and don’t loosen my grip until my car is safely parked at the next destination.

Big Brother is sucking the final vestiges of fun out of commuting.

Seriously, I don’t mind Michigan’s ban on texting. I’ve already adjusted to holstering my iPhone while driving. I’ll save those emails for after dinner. It’s the right thing to do.

I’m also in favor of a ban on operating hand-held phones. Who hasn’t been stuck behind some joker with a cell phone plastered to his ear driving 30 mph in a 45 mph zone?

But the other driving “offenses” have me baffled. Troy has many drive-through fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. Their patrons will be sitting ducks for eating- and drinking-while-driving tickets.

Frankly, we might be in greater danger if under-caffeinated drivers have to wait until they leave the city limits before imbibing their morning cup of coffee.

Assuming other communities and states pass similar driving ordinances, I foresee new hardships for service, installation, maintenance, and delivery pros. Companies will need to install blue-tooth messaging systems into their vehicles so dispatchers can reach techs in real-time.

Service techs, who already have a bad rap for tardiness, will have even less flexibility to inform customers or their dispatchers they are running late.

And what does a company owner do about repeat offenders?

Owner: Woody, this is the third time you’ve been ticketed for Crispy Cream consumption while driving. I’m sending you to Jenny Craig to kick this addiction.

Woody: Can’t you just install the doughnut breath-a-lizer?

Imagine screening new employees. What do you do if a potential delivery person has racked up several “personal grooming” violations while driving? Do you frisk them for combs and brushes before they get behind the wheel?

Hopefully, civic leaders will resist the temptation to over-regulate our driving habits. In the meantime, don’t even think about answering your ringing cell phone. It could be coming from that car behind you with the blue and red flashing lights.
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