Del. Algie Howell has introduced HB1659: Wireless telecommunications devices; prohibits use of while driving except in an emergency. The proposed addition to the state code is:
Except in an emergency, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle, bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any wireless telecommunications device, whether handheld or otherwise.
So the function of Howell’s bill is to bar using mobile phones while driving a car. That’s pretty straightforward. But the preamble (I think it’s called the “title,” oddly enough) to the bill itself says:
A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 46.2-1078.1, relating to use of wireless telecommunications devices for text messaging while operating certain vehicles.
(My emphasis.) Though I can’t speculate as to what’s going on here, nor can I speculate as to Del. Howell’s intentions for the bill, I do find interesting the question of what the result of this law would be. My assumption is that the dicta at the head of the bill would be ignored, since the bill makes quite clear what text is to be added to the code (as bills must). But I’d be curious to hear from any attorneys or denizens of the legislature who might know how these cases are handled.
The good news is that this bill has just been introduced— committees exist in order to sort out problems like this before they become law.
12/30 Update: Chris Piper writes:
[T]hose summaries (not titles) are typically written by Legislative Services. While the patron has the right to edit or even totally rewrite the summary, they usually don’t. This error looks like an issue with the same folks who “fixed” the Blue Laws a few years ago.
[T]his is a glaring error that would easily be fixed in committee with a substitute. It could be possible that it pass as is. If it did, the summary is not printed in the Code Commission’s final copy of the Act, so it would never make it into the law anyway.