Mon, Aug. 17, 2009

Cell Phone Ban Unconstitutional?

CK - Washington.   The German cell phone ban appears unconstitutional and needs to be referred to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, a judge decided in the matter 85 OWi 196/09 on July 8, 2009 at the Gummerbach Amtsgericht court.

At its core, the likely unconstitutionality results from the unequal treatment of various in-vehicle activities. The judge lists amorous entangling, drafting court rulings, shaving, tuning the radio and many others as dangerous yet unregulated while the unquestionably dangerous cell phone use alone has been singled out as an illegal activity.

Hanging an arm out the driver side window or an amputee driving a car with one hand--such disparate phenomena find no reflection in the statute. Its focus is the requirement that drivers maintain two hands available to drive. What they use the hands for, and whether current or future technology allows drivers to drive and operate a cell phone--either as a communications device, as a camera or as a dictaphone--are factors not reflected in the statute.

The judge is serious about the dangers of driving and calling--whether by hand-held or hands-free device--but equally certain about the inequality of the treatment of devices and users in the eyes of the German constitution.

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