The law banning texting and driving in Florida would be easier for law enforcement to enforce under a bill filed Wednesday in the Florida House.
The measure would make texting and driving a primary offense which would allow an officer to pull you over if they see you texting while driving down the highway. Currently, the ban on texting and driving is considered a secondary offense. That means law enforcement can only ticket you for texting and driving if they pull you over for some other offense.
“In 2015 there were over 45,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa. “These crashes resulted in 39,000 injuries and more than 200 fatalities. As the mother of five children these numbers are as frightening as they are compelling.”
“Providing law enforcement with the ability to enforce the ‘Texting While Driving Ban’ as a primary offense will save lives and prevent injuries,” added bill co-sponsor Rep. Emily Slosberg, R-Delray Beach.
Under the legislation, the penalties for texting and driving would remain a nonmoving violation that carries a $30 fine plus court costs. That add up to a total fine of as much as $108.
A person who is ticketed for texting and driving twice within a five year period would be charged with a moving violation that carries a $60 fine and could total $158 when you factor in court costs. Three points would also be added to the driver license record of the motor vehicle operator.
Any violation of the ban that results in a cras would add six points to the offender’s driver license record.
“Texting and driving presents a real, life-threatening danger to Floridians both on and off the road. The data is overwhelming and the need to act is equally compelling,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. “This bill establishes a proper balance between safety and law enforcement and our cherished liberties. The goal is safer streets not greater conflict.”
The bill includes protections for an individual’s civil liberties. It would require a warrant to access a driver’s phone and requires a law enforcement officer who stops a motor vehicle for a violation of the ban to inform the driver of his or her right to decline a search of the phone.