Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 14, 2018 – On January 10, a bill for the primary offense of texting while driving passed its second Florida Senate panel. The Senate Committee on Transportation voted unanimously to pass the bill.
Florida law previously cited texting while driving as a secondary offense, meaning a police officer could pull over a driver for a separate offense such as running a red light first to be able to ticket for both running the light and texting while driving.
Senator Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, is sponsoring SB 90. This bill would make texting while driving a primary offense, so law enforcement could pull a driver over for texting without another violation attached.
Florida State University Police Chief, David Perry, eagerly supported the bill, explaining that the change to a primary offense would be critical for drivers to be discouraged from texting and driving. Organizations such as AAA, AT&T and the Florida Bicycle Association also vocalized agreement.
The second committee meeting for the bill, had the lobbyists for these organizations turn down the floor in order allow parents who lost their children in distracted driving accidents to speak up.
Many of the speakers agreed with the bill, but believe that it is still not enough to stop drivers from texting.
Robert Joyce, a Tampa attorney with Joyce & Reyes, said, “The roads need to be safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, and texting while driving is a major cause of accidents.”
Lobbyist Lane Stephens stated that police are currently unable to recover cell phone records to see if the driver who caused an accident was texting while driving unless a witness says they were.
St. Petersburg Democratic Senator Daryl Rouson was perturbed about the bill causing more black drivers to be pulled over and targeted. After filing an amendment that would have officers take down the drivers’ race for enforcement statistics, he later withdrew it when Perry guaranteed that an effort would be made to decrease racial profiling.
The bill passed the committee with a 5-0 vote. SB 90 will now be taken to Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportations.
Learn more at http://www.joyceandreyespa.com
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
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