Florida may find itself with tougher laws regarding texting and driving as multiple bills are introduced in the state legislature. A myriad of bills were introduced in the House and Senate, and will being the process of being read in committee and eventually for a vote. Currently, Florida has the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving” law which makes it a secondary offense, meaning a driver can only be issued a citation if they are stopped for another traffic offense, like speeding or running a red light. Many critics believe that this law is not strict enough on drivers and does not carry with it enough bite/repercussions for the offending drivers. Below you will find a summary of the various bills introduced:
- House Bill 25/Senate Bill 246 – Texting While Driving in a School Zone
These bills were introduced by Representative Richard Stark (D-104) and Senator Deputy Minority Whip Maria Lorts Sachs (D-34). The main focus of this bill is to double the amount of the traffic citation if someone is found texting while in a posted active school zone or designated school crossing.
- House Bill 251/Senate Bill 134 – Driving Safety
These bill were introduced by Representative Irving Slosberg (D-91) and Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-12). This bill adds language to the existing Florida Statute 316.305 and creates a new moving violation for those drivers who use their phones illegally in a posted school zone. The intent of this bills seems to make texting while driving in a school zone a primary traffic violation that does not require another wrongful act.
- House Bill 537/Senate Bill 328 – Wireless Communication Devices
These bills were introduced by Representative Keith Perry (R-21) and Senator Thad Altman (R-16). This bill actually amends the language of Florida Statute 316.305 to authorize law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations as primary offenses.
House Bill 537/Senate Bill 328 is the primary vehicle to change Florida’s texting laws from weak secondary offenses to primary offenses, meaning texting while driving would be a violation with the need for another traffic violation. Text messaging while driving increases the risks of crashing 23 times over a driver who is not distracted, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Study. While creating texting and driving into a primary traffic offense may not reduce the number of distracted drivers, it does create tougher punishment and easier enforcement of the law.
For more information about the risk associated with texting while driving and distracted driving, we encourage you to visit End Distracted Driving‘s website for statistics and ways to be a safer driver. Also, we encourage you to contact your local State Representatives and Senators and educate them on these bills and ask them for their support in creating safer roadways in Florida.
Obtaining his law degree from the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law—also known as the Barry Law School—Mr. Primrose received high honors in the Litigation Honors Certificate program before graduating in 2013. That same year, he joinedWooten Kimbrough, P.A. where he focused on litigating personal injury matters.
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