MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Starting Tuesday, it will be illegal to text while driving.
Last May, Governor Rick Scott signed Florida’s texting and driving ban into law in Miami. The law makes texting and driving a secondary offense, which means you have to be pulled over for something else.
“I lost my daughter Dory and I do not want another family to go through this,” said Representative Irving Slosberg at a news conference at Sunguide Transportation Center in Miami.
Slosbert made it his mission to ban texting while driving in Florida after the loss of his daughter in a traffic crash.
After Scott signed the bill, critics said it wasn’t strong enough and would be difficult to enforce let alone prosecute.
“It would just be very hard for the officer to testify with a straight face that person was texting while driving because of the many possibilities including turning off your ringer, turning off your phone,” said attorney Yehuda Bruck who handles traffic tickets in court.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez disagreed.
“It’s a secondary violation. When you’re texting you’re going to fail to keep a single lane, you’re going to speed, you’re going to run a stop sign,” Sanchez said. “That’s the primary law. If you’re texting the officer will just write you another ticket for $30.”
If you’re ticketed a second time within five years, the penalty will be a moving violation and if you’re involved in an accident, law enforcement can pull your phone records and six points will be added to your drivers license.
Many drivers we spoke with agreed that the law is a good idea.
“If you know you’re gonna get a ticket, it’s gonna make people think twice,” said Rene Arredondo. “‘Ah, I’ll just wait till I get to the parking lot’ (to send a text.)”
Others who admit texting and driving think the law is overdue.
“If I’m gonna get a ticket, I’m definitely gonna try my best not to do it,” said Chris Knight.
Drivers doing 55 mph and who text take their eyes off the road for almost five seconds can cross the equivalent of a football field while not looking, according to the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which regulates the trucking industry.
There were 256,443 reported crashes in Florida in 2012. In 4,841 of those crashes, a driver had been texting or otherwise using an “electronic communication device” while driving, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“It is dangerous it is costing live families are selected it is a law and we will enforce it; I’m here to tell you this much, I will personally write you a ticket if you’re texting behind the wheel” said Trooper Joe Sanchez.