Believe it or not, Florida is one of only five states in the country not to legally ban texting and driving. That may be coming to an end very soon. Recently the Florida Senate voted 36-0 to ban this nasty activity that has killed as many as 11 teenagers a day in this country. A unanimous vote in Tallahassee is about as unlikely as a teenager without a smart phone. So this is sailing through the Legislature with no resistance.
Next, the bill will be sent to the House for their vote and most everyone agrees that it will pass this body as well. And Governor Rick Scott has already stated that he will sign the bill into law. So, 2013 most likely will be the year when Florida got the memo and attempted to stem the tide of texting and driving. So, what’s in the bill?
The thing about this law is violating the proposed law is only a secondary violation. You cannot be pulled over for texting alone – there would have to be an underlying reason for the offense, such as careless driving or running a light. If ticketed, though, texting and driving is its own separate offense. In other words, you could get two tickets: One for careless driving and one for texting and driving. While the penalty is only $30 for a first time texting violation, if caught a second time in 5 years the fine is $60 and 3 points will be assessed to your license. If you’re texting in a school zone, it could get you even more points.
You cannot get a ticket for texting and driving, if you’re not driving. If sitting at a red light it’s okay to text. Also, if you’re in a traffic jam and in stop-and-go traffic, while not a great idea to text (and let’s face it, who hasn’t done this?) it will not get you a ticket. And finally, you can text in “high-tech, hands-off” cars when presumably you’re dictating your text through the car’s blue-tooth feature.
Personally, I’d rather wait to get where I’m going before I text which is usually twice as fast as trying to drive and text at the same time. I’ve passed people going half the speed limit because they’re busy texting and attempting to navigate their car. I’m sure you have too.
Author Bio: Walt Blenner is a Palm Harbor personal injury attorney who is an “AV” (highest) rated by Lawyers.com and Martindale Hubbell. He has successfully represented hundreds of clients in Palm Harbor, Dunedin, New Port Richey as well as Tampa and looks forward to helping you and your family whether in the area of personal injury, estate planning or corporate representation.
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