Q: Can I fight Section 257.602b traffic ticket arguing the language of "text message" did not apply in my case?
In Michigan State Traffic Law, Section 257.602b, can I argue that I did not violate the Section, questioning the definition of a "text message" stated in the Section? I understand a text message can be one sent via SMS for example one using the cellular network, and may not include other types of text, such as internet page or social media representation. I can argue that I was not reading, writing or sending a "text message" as defined in the Section. Will this defense work?
A: The phrase "text message" is not a defined term. The court will likely attribute to it a general definition rather than a strict one limited to SMS. A court is likely to interpret the statute in accordance with the activity that is being regulated and the harm that it is intended to prevent. Whether it's texting, or emailing, or sending emojis, the activity that you describe necessarily involves the reading of the text as well as the sending of text. Moreover, the activities that you describe may be more distracting and thus more dangerous than texting when attempted as a driver. I do not think that the court will be inclined to read the phrase in such a restricted manner. But, as the saying goes, "Any port in a storm". You may have some luck by insisting that the officer prove that you were using an iphone as opposed to a Walkman, ipod or audio-only device.
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