It’s Official: Florida Governor Signs Texting While Driving Ban Into Law
It may not be the strongest texting-while-driving law in the nation, but Governor Rick Scott has finally signed a bill that officially bans the practice in the state of Florida. After years of fits and starts, Florida has now become the 41st state that has a law on the books banning texting-while-driving.
Critics of the law say that it doesn’t go far enough, while many supporters look at the ban as a critical stepping-stone for potentially stronger distracted driving laws in the future. As the current law stands, texting-while-driving is a secondary offense. In other words, Florida law enforcement can’t pull over drivers for texting-while-driving alone, but can cite them if they have been pulled over for another infraction like speeding or reckless driving.
A first-time fine will cost $30.
The ban doesn’t extend to the use of cell phones for navigation, radio listening or talk-to-texting. Also, law enforcement officers cannot check a motorist’s cell phone during a stop to verify if he or she had been texting or emailing while driving.
Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has conceded that the new law is not perfect, but its passage will begin to impact Florida motorists’ driving habits.
“What I want is for mothers and dads to be able to say ‘Don’t forget, don’t text while driving’ it’s against the law,” Detert told the Miami Herald. She went on to say that it is doubtful that many children will be splitting hairs as to whether it is a primary or secondary infraction.
Scott signed the bill into law surrounded by Florida Highway Patrol troopers at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Miami.
The attorneys at the law firm of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville laud this important step toward making Florida’s roads and highways safer. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, texting-while-driving caused 180 crashes in Florida in 2011. That number, in all likelihood, is just the tip of the iceberg.
What is known for certain is that distracted driving causes too many injuries and fatalities on the road and any measure designed to curb it is welcome.