Rutherford: Say No to Texting & Driving as Primary Offense - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rutherford Institute: Say No to Texting & Driving as Primary Offense

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Texting and driving is dangerous and in many cases, deadly. The Virginia General Assembly recently passed a bill that would make texting and driving a primary offense, but a Charlottesville civil rights group wants you to know the law would be devastating to your Fourth-Amendment rights.

A press release issued the Rutherford Institute says it wants Governor McDonnell to hold off on signing the "poorly drafted law" because it is too vague.

"What the law does is it doesn't set any standards for what we call probable cause under our Fourth Amendment, which protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures," said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.

Whitehead sent a letter to McDonnell Thursday, asking for clearer standards.

"Under this law I can be pulled over for texting although I'm not texting, have my car searched, I can be pulled out of the car, put against the car and searched. For what, scratching a stain off my pants? So that's how poorly drafted this law is," Whitehead said.

Charlottesville police say if this law is passed, procedures are likely to change.

"I'm saying initially the law enforcement will probably take a different approach to the enforcement, not just sitting in an automobile but standing at an intersection," said Ronnie Roberts, Charlottesville police spokesman.

Police also say the primary offense alone may deter people from texting behind the wheel.

While the Rutherford Institute wants to see a law passed to curb texting and driving, it wants clarification.

"If you have your head down, they can pull you over, pull you out of the car and search you. This is what we see in regimes; we don't want this in America," Whitehead said.

Governor McDonnell has not yet signed this bill. But if he does, the Rutherford Institute says it is ready to file a lawsuit.

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