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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A Senate committee has narrowly approved two bills that would strengthen the state’s ban on texting while driving.
The Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee voted 5-3 to approve the bills, SB 192 by Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, and SB 246 by Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. Both bills would lead to enforcement of texting while driving as a “primary” offense — meaning police could pull over motorists for texting behind the wheel. Currently, police can only cite motorists for texting while driving if they are pulled over for other reasons.
The bills were considered separately because Sachs’ proposal also would double fines for texting while driving in school zones or at designated school crossings.
“Texting and driving kills people,” Sachs said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The committee, however, voted 5-3 to reject a proposal (SB 270) by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, that would make it a felony if motorists are texting while driving and cause fatal accidents.
Also, the committee approved a proposal (SB 492) by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, that would ban the use of cell phones while driving in school zones, at designated school crossings or on school-district property. House versions of the Altman, Sachs and Thompson bills have been filed but have not been heard in committees.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.