Ban on texting while driving looks likely
Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:24 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — Everything is aligned for the Florida Legislature to pass a ban on texting while driving.
In an 8-0 vote Monday, Sen. Nancy Detert’s bill (SB 52) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, after adding an amendment that made it identical to the House measure (HB 13), sponsored by Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice.
The vote represented the last committee stop for the Senate bill, with the House bill having already cleared all its committees. Now, with just under four weeks left in the annual session, it will be up to legislative leaders to schedule the measure for a final floor vote.
The bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning motorists would have to be pulled over for another reason before they could be charged. First-time violators would face a $30 fine plus court costs.
Although the penalties are mild and it is not a primary offense, Detert, R-Venice, and Holder said that they see passing the ban as an important step in establishing the mindset in younger drivers that texting while driving a vehicle is against the law as well as unsafe.
Holder has been advocating for his bill for the last five years, while Detert has joined the cause in the last four.
“It’s about time on this one,” said Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando. “It’s pretty clear that this will save lives.”
Detert noted that Florida is only one of five states without some type of a texting-while-driving prohibition.
“Hopefully we’ve gone beyond public support into public frustration that we haven’t passed something,” Detert said. “I think this is the year.”