When Maria Shriver made headlines a few weeks ago regarding pictures taken of her on her cell phone while driving, it made me upset.
She was caught three times on her cell phone while driving.
It made me especially upset because there are so many aggressive police officers ticketing regular citizens for driving and talking on their cell phones, when the First Lady of California gets no punishment what so ever just because there was no cop present to catch her on the phone.
She did not even have the phone on speaker, she had it directly to her ear.
Ironically, it was her husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law, which took effect on July 1, 2008.
The law prohibits being on your cell phone while driving except if you have a hands-free device, such as blue tooth.
Schwarzenegger publicly said that he told his 16-year-old daughter that if she got caught using a cell phone to her ear while driving, she will be taking the bus as a method of transportation.
When Schwarzenegger found out what had happen to his wife, he sent a message via Twitter to the creator of TMZ.com stating this: “Thanks for bringing her violations to my attention. There’s going to be swift action.”
And by “swift action” he means telling her not to hold the cell phone while driving, according to abcnews.com.
Schwarzenegger only briefly made a comment of how he might impose a monetary requirement for her actions as a form of punishment.
But it was not official.
Instead of Shriver paying her dues for violating the California law, she donated her old cell phone shown in the photos to charity.
Shriver released a statement saying: “That’s my version of swift action with a higher purpose.”
But there were three photographs from TMZ.com to prove it.
It is just like when you drive through a red light, have your picture taken and get sent a ticket in the mail.
So why not send Shriver a ticket to her door step and fine her like any normal citizen?
The first penalty is $20 ticket.
The second time you are caught it costs $50, with additional fees.
Depending on where you get your ticket, a citation for driving and talking on your cell phone at the same time can cost up to almost $200 to $300 with fines for the second time being caught.
According to the abcnews.com, the California Highway Patrol has given out 150,000 tickets for those not following the law.
It is not fair that struggling California citizens are forced to pay for these costly citations in this tough economy when their First Lady of their state of California does not have to.
Driving while talking on your cell phone is very dangerous and is against the law, so even an average citizen should be cited if found doing this illegal act.
I am not saying it is OK to talk or text while you are operating a vehicle.
However, politicians and celebrities should be punished the same as normal citizens if they are found breaking the same laws.
I feel these highly public figures get away with a lot and do not face the consequences.
Thus, they are not learning from their bad actions because there is no punishment.
They should not have priority over us and get away with thing just because of who they are.
Everyone should be treated equally, even the first lady of California.
Natalie Veissalov, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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