This week, a bill passed in the state of Florida to make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning a driver can be stopped by police for texting alone. Prior to this bill, texting was only a secondary offense meaning an officer could not pull over a driver if the only law being broken was texting while driving. For instance, the driver would have to have been speeding to be pulled over and then receive an additional citation for texting while driving which used to be only a $20 fine.
Now the rules have changed and so will the fines. The first violation by a driver for texting while driving will carry a $30 fine plus court costs but subsequent fines within a 5 year period are doubled to $60. This new law finally brings the state of Florida in line with the other 43 states that have made texting while driving a primary offense.
What does this mean for you as a driver in Florida?
Hopefully great things. Texting while driving really is a serious and widespread danger to all of us driving in Florida. We hope this reduces how often people are texting while driving and even if it makes the roads just a little bit safer, it’s a win for all Floridians.
That doesn’t mean this new law is immune to criticism. There are concerns that this new law may allow authorities to use texting as an easy and difficult to refute excuse to pull over drivers on a whim. Some fought the bill because they argued it would be used to unfairly profile specific groups of drivers. This concern was addressed by including a provision in the new bill that requires officers who write a texting while driving citation to note the race of the driver and report their cumulative data to the state to make sure it is not unfairly targeting anyone.
Parting words from the lowercase lawyers…
This law will require drivers to take responsibility for their cell phone use while driving in the state of Florida. While we hope it adds a layer of safety to our transportation system, we know that not everyone follows the law. Drivers continue to speed, drive under the influence, and yes they will continue to text while driving. If you or a loved one is a victim of an accident due to texting while driving or any other vehicular negligence, contact a lowercase attorney today.