Florida Lawmakers Pass Texting-While-Driving Ban

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida lawmakers have passed a statewide ban on texting while driving.

The Senate passed a bill (SB 52) on Thursday by 39-1. Republican Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart was the only no vote.

The House approved it earlier this week but added a provision allowing police to use drivers' mobile phone records against them only when texting causes a crash resulting in death or personal injury. That change required it to come back to the Senate.

Bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Detert said she decided "not to let the perfect get in the way of the possible" and agreed to the late amendment.

The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott's desk. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have texting-while-driving bans for all drivers.

By: Mike Vasilinda

Tallahassee, Fla. - For the sixth year in a row, legislation is being introduced to make it a non moving traffic violation to text while driving, getting caught would result in a thirty dollar fine. But the legislation still faces tough opposition.

Studies show texting while driving can be 23 times more dangerous than keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

State Representative Doug Holder wants to ban texting and driving. He’s filed legislation for the sixth year in a row. “There are eleven teenagers that die every day in United States from texting while driving. Twenty-five percent of all accidents are now attributed to texting while driving.”, says Rep. Holder.

The ban carries a thirty dollar fine and is a non moving violation. Police would have to stop you for some other infraction. Holder says he’s spent the last few years working out objections. “We’ve really whittled it down to what we believe will pass and this is the year we believe this is the year that Florida will make texting illegal while driving.”, says Rep. Holder.

But there is still opposition.

When lawmakers first started talking about banning just talking on the cell phone before texting existed, many African-Americans complained they would be profiled and stopped under the legislation.

The most powerful opponent is State Senator Joe Negron; he’s the Senate Budget Chair, and he says we don’t need another law to ban what he says is already illegal. “If you’re texting as you’re driving down the road and weaving all over the road, you’re being a careless driver. You should get a citation for careless driving.”, says Sen. Negron.

170 thousand people were arrested for careless driving last year.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Texting while driving could soon be illegal in Florida.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill (SB 52) Tuesday that would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police have to first stop drivers for an offense like speeding.

A first violation would be a $30 fine plus court costs. A second or subsequent violation within five years would add three points to the driver's license and a $60 fine.

Republican Sen. Nancy Detert said this is the fourth year she has sponsored a texting ban bill and that Florida is now one of only five states without a ban.

Detert told senators the bill will save lives, adding, "It's become an epidemic. It needs to stop and this is the way to stop it."

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