A tougher texting and driving law has passed in the Florida House, but is currently stalled in the Senate. This bill would make it a primary offense statewide to text and drive.
Fact Number 1
Texting while driving is currently a secondary offense.
Currently, a driver can only be ticketed for texting while driving if another offense has been committed.
Fact Number 2
The fines for a texting while driving infraction vary by jurisdiction.
If legislation is passed, there is no word if the fine will be the same across the state of Florida, or if it will be increased if and when the infraction becomes a primary offense.
The average fine currently is around $120.
The minimum fine amount would stay the same. $30 for the first offense, $60 for the second offense.
Fact Number 3
The bill has two sponsors. Representatives Emily Slosberg (D-Boca Raton), and Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) are the bill’s co-sponsors.
Slosberg’s twin sister, Dori, died in a car crash in 1996. Emily was also in the car, but survived with a punctured lung and broken bones. In Slosberg’s time in the Florida House of Representatives, she has sponsored several other safe driving bills.
As the mother of five kids, Toledo has also taken a passionate interest in this bill.
Fact Number 4
Some states have, or are planning, designated texting areas along major highways.
New York State has designated text stops. 91 of these text stops have been implemented or are still in planning throughout the state.
Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia now have “safe phone zone” signs now up at their rest areas and travel plazas.
Fact Number 5
A lot can happen in just 5 seconds.
At just 40 miles per hour, you are traveling almost 60 feet per second. In five seconds, your car will have traveled the almost length of the football field!
Fact Number 6
Florida Statute 316.305 will address the potential change to the law.
This current statute is currently titled Wireless Communications Devices; Prohibition.
Fact Number 7
43 states currently consider texting while driving to be a primary offense.
Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Arizona have secondary enforcement. Ohio, for example, has primary enforcement for drivers under 18, and secondary for all other drivers.
Fact Number 8
For an officer to search a phone’s texts for evidence, he must take steps to do so.
A driver can say yes or no to a search, and an officer must inform the driver of his or her right to decline. If the driver says no, an officer must obtain a warrant.
Fact Number 9
If this texting and driving bill passes, it would go into effect on October 1, 2018.
As of right now, the bill is currently stalled in the Florida Senate. As time passes, hopes of the bill getting through the Senate are decreasing.
Fact Number 10
In 2016, there were 233 deaths in Florida related to distracted driving, and approximately 50,000 accidents overall.