TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A bill in the works would make it a primary offense to text while driving in the State of Florida.
That means police would be able to ticket drivers caught texting without needing another reason to stop them.
A first violation remains a nonmoving violation that carries a $30 fine plus court costs, for a total fine of up to $108.
A second or subsequent violation committed within five years is a moving violation that carries a $60 fine plus court costs, for a total fine of up to $158, with three points added to the driver license record of the motor vehicle operator.
Any violation of the ban that causes a crash results in the addition of six points to the offender’s driver license record.
Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the state’s House, said texting while driving has reached epidemic levels. He said approximately 50,000 crashes a year can be attributed to texting while driving.
“The statistics have just become overwhelming, that this has reached a national crisis, 92 percent of people admit to texting and driving in the last 30 days,” he said.
Some lawmakers have expressed concerns that this will be another reason for racial profiling, but Corcoran said there are protections built in.
For example, he said, the bill requires a warrant to access a driver’s phone. It also requires that the law enforcement officer who stops a vehicle for a violation of the ban must inform the driver of his or her right to decline a search of the phone.
The bill has already cleared one of four committee stops.
Corcoran predicts it will become law by the end of the legislative session which begins in January.