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Florida Starts Ban on Texting While Driving

The traffic offenses of Texting while driving will now be against the law starting on October 1, 2013. Florida Statutes 316.305 is the law used to regulate and enforce Florida’s Ban on Texting while Driving law. The Statute states: “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.” The statutes allows for some relief to those addicted to texting to check and send messages while the vehicle is stationary. The dangers associated with texting while driving is substantial, however enforcing this statute will be a challenge for law enforcement. Law enforcement can only enforce this statute as a secondary action. This means law enforcement must have already stopped your vehicle for a separate violation such as careless driving before they can site you for the texting statute violation. Furthermore, law enforcement will face significant evidentiary issues. Law enforcement may not be able to use the billing records statements or statements from wireless providers as evidence unless a crash resulting in death or personal injury occurs. These traffic offenses still have minimal penalties. While I commend the legislature for outlawing texting while driving the penalties need some adjusting. A first offense is considered a non moving violation. The only way for the citation to carry points on your driving record as a moving violation is for a second or subsequent violation within 5 years of the prior conviction.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Traffic Offenses

Texting While Driving

Florida has recently become the 41st state to enact a texting while driving ban. Governor Rick Scott recently signed the bill banning texting while driving in the state of Florida. Scott signed the bill on May 28, 2013.The texting while driving bill surprisingly took five years to pass.Texting while driving will be a secondary offense, meaning a police officer cannot stop the individual for texting while driving as the main reason for the stop. The officer has to find a primary reason to pull the person over and then decide if he or she was texting while driving. Although there are exceptions to this bill, it will certainly make the roads safer. Some of the exceptions are “interpersonal communications that can be conducted without manually typing the message or without reading the message”. Studies show that “voice-to-text” is just as dangerous as “regular” texting while driving. Also, there is an exception for navigation information, traffic data, and radio broadcasts. Another interesting exception is that persons are allowed to text while stopped at a red light. This part of the bill will rely heavily on police discretion while deciding if the vehicle was actually moving. All of these exceptions could pose as a problem while trying to enforce the law. Also, the first violation will result in a $30 fine that is added on to the primary offense the officer stopped the individual for. The second offense is a $60 fine and 3 points on the individual’s license, only if the second offense was committed within five years of the first offense. If the result of texting while driving results in a crash then the bill allows for the acceptability of a person’s wireless communication device billing records as evidence.The officer must obtain a warrant to search the individual’s phone or phone records. Lastly, if the result of an incident is an injury or death, the person texting while driving will receive 6 points on their license. The main purpose of the bill is to increase highway safety and to prevent crashes due to texting while driving. In 2012, there were a total of 257,912 car accidents in Florida; 4,022 of those accidents were caused by “distracted individuals on electronic devices“. More importantly, of the 257,912 accidents, 196 were caused solely by texting while driving, which is less than 1%. Texting while driving is the biggest cause of death for teenagers. About 3,000 teenagers died last year from texting related incidents. While this bill will make our roads safer to travel on, police are worried that it will also be extremely tough to enforce.

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