In the City That Was Supposed to be Houston, famed for its throwback seaside kitsch and relentless resilience in the face of crippling natural disasters, the technology tide has turned. More accurately, the City Council transformed itself into progress-hatin' Dementors last night, entering your cars, shanghai-ing your cell phones, and generally tossing digital communication as you know it overboard.
Thursday evening, Galveston's City Council convened around the fire, and made a pact that would follow the mobile-to-mobile lead of 19 other states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. The city's powers that be agreed to augment its traffic code, which now completely nixes electronic messaging while driving within the city limits.
"The public may no longer use wireless communication devices to view, send, or compose an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle." Phew. Yes, feel free to emit a sigh of relief at this point in our story. 'Cause the attorney buried deep inside us believes that Facebook status updates are safe from the exodus. At least that's the angle we'd argue to the judge. We reckon we'd win our case.
Lest you take our approach and treat this ordinance as a complete joke, a violation'll register on your record as a nice little misdemeanor offense. And yes, a pretty fine that taps out at $500 will accompany it as well. Doesn't look like we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.
In truth, we ain't skeerda no weenie beach town's attempt at preachin' and legislatin'. Badass urban techies like us are certainly not intimidated by some silly, piddly little rule. And besides, what fun are laws and order if you can't shake shit up from time to time?
So, on those days that you journey south to get a whiff of the rancor that is the Gulf of Mexico, push the envelope the way the city slickers do, and buck the standard. 'Cause if you read the letter of the law, our legal holding is that you're not prohibited from any of the following whilst behind the wheel:
- Stalking that delicious con(fectionery) artist at LaKing's via Google Maps.
- Selecting and evaluating every single factory-issued ringtone associated with your mobile device.
- Playing Words With Friends (just be sure not to utilize the Chat feature; it's clearly outlawed).
- Thoroughly reorganizing your cellular address book to put the Maybes ahead of the No-Gos.
- And if you absolutely, positively MUST communicate with the outside world via texts while driving? Stop. Just stop. Stop right where you are. In the middle of Seawall Boulevard, turning into a prime parking spot off The Strand, on I-45 North on your way outta town.
Like all laws, there are exceptions. This one's loopholes state that "motorists can defend themselves from getting tickets if the vehicle was stopped," among other silly workarounds, such as "making a phone call, texting to prevent a crime, or texting to obtain emergency assistance if your life or safety is in immediate danger."
Pffft. Child's play. We could posit an argument that every missed booty call puts the safety of the human race in immediate danger. In Johnnie Cochran we trust.
So stop, drop, and text next time a message comes through 'bout that sweet, sweet Mary Jane following a fun-filled day at Schlitterbahn. Elderly tourists and medical patients citywide will sing your praises 'til the oil barges come home. You betcha.
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