Senate Puts Brakes on Florida’s Texting-While-Driving Bill

While the Florida House is set to approve a bill that will allow law enforcement to pull over drivers for texting while driving, the Florida Senate has not responded as favorably to the proposed bill.

The Senate sponsor for the bill, Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, has said he is pushing for the passage of SB 90, but the Senate Appropriations Chairman, Rob Bradley, has made statements that indicate that the proposal will not appear in the Appropriations Committee before the official legislative session set to end next week.

Opponents of the bill have expressed concerns, specifically saying that the bill could be abused and could outweigh the original intent for the law which was to reduce the amount of accidents caused by distracted driving, specifically texting while driving.

Over the years, the number of accidents that have been caused by drivers being distracted by their smartphones has rapidly increased. The House proposal, which was House Bill 33, would make texting while driving a “primary” traffic offense. HB 33 does allow drivers to use phones for phone calls and to obtain directions on the devices.

When an offense is a primary one, this means law enforcement can pull the driver over simply for the fact that he or she is texting. Currently, the offense of texting while driving is a secondary one, meaning the driver needs to be committing another offense, such as speeding, in addition to texting, for him or her to be pulled over and ticketed.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has come out in opposition to making texting and driving a primary offense, along with other law makers who have concerns that this bill could increase the chance of minorities being racially profiled when being pulled over. House Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Lantana, has raised these concerns, asking the sponsors of the bill if they considered the “unintended consequences” of the bill.

Other questions have been brought up over how law enforcement will be able to determine if the driver is using the phone for texting or for making phone calls or using the GPS application. The difference can mean a lot since one action is illegal under the bill and the other is completely legal.

“We’ve spoken extensively with law enforcement,” added co-sponsor Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. “There is a big difference between a driver who makes a few clicks on a phone or dials a few numbers than going down the road with a cellphone in their hands, typing a novel, not looking anywhere at the road, but right down at their phone.”

If you or a loved one were involved in an automobile accident with a distracted driver, you need to contact an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer immediately. Florida drivers have only 14 days to seek initial medical attention to receive insurance benefits after an accident. The damages from a serious car accident are not always covered in a settlement from your insurance company. Many times, the initial settlement offer is barely enough to cover the basic costs associated with your accident. Our personal injury attorneys are well equipped and armed with years of legal experience helping people file auto insurance claims. We can help you obtain full compensation for your medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, property damage, pain and suffering, etc. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in greater detail.

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