In response to an increasing number of motor-vehicle accidents across the nation, the U.S. Congress enacts a federal statute, titled the Don’t Text and Drive Act (the Act). The senate report for the Act attributes the increase in motor-vehicle accidents to a rise in the number of drivers, particularly teenagers, who send and receive text messages while driving. The senate report finds that these accidents cost billions of dollars annually in economic losses, personal injury, and overall societal harm, and that they interfere with the well-being and educational prospects of their teenager victims. The senate report further asserts that this problem requires a national solution, because states have failed to uniformly prohibit texting while driving.
The Act, as explained below, conditions certain federal funding on the states’ prohibiting texting while driving, an offense defined in the Act as “operating a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device.” Under the Act, states have the discretion to impose civil or criminal penalties on violators.
Any state that does not prohibit texting while driving will lose 15 percent of the federal funds it receives to improve the quality of its public K-12 education. The total amount that each state would lose constitutes approximately 2 percent of an average state’s overall budget.
QuestionIs the Act constitutional? Explain.
Is the Act constitutional? Explain.