Florida may finally toughen its texting and driving ban

Florida appears set to finally make texting and driving a primary offense after years of resistance.

Texting and driving is illegal in Florida, but the penalties for getting caught are fairly light. That's because unlike almost every other state, Florida only makes texting and driving a secondary offense. However, as 10 News reports, that could soon change as a bill that would make texting and driving a primary offence - and increase fines and driving points - is making its way through the state legislature and appears likely to become law. The tougher law is widely seen as necessary as fatal traffic accidents increase across the nation, largely due to the prevalence of distracted driving.

Making texting and driving a primary offense

In its current form, the bill would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida. That means that if police see a driver texting behind the wheel, they can pull them over without having any other reason for doing so. Currently, as a secondary offense, police need to observe drivers committing a separate primary offense, such as speeding, before they can pull over a texting driver and charge them with texting and driving.

The bill would also increase the fine to $30 from the current $20 for a first offense. Combined with court costs, that means drivers would have to pay up to $108 total for their first ticket. A subsequent violation within five years would double the fine to $60 (or up to $158 when court costs are included) and introduce three driving points. If a driver causes a crash due to texting and driving they will receive six points on their license and if they are cited for texting and driving in a school zone in conjunction with a moving violation, then they will receive an additional two points.

Bill seems likely to succeed

Attempts have been made a number of times to toughen Florida's texting and driving laws, but all have so far failed due to opposition by the state's political leadership. However, that leadership appears to have come around to the notion of making texting and driving a primary offense, which 41 other states have already done.

The reason for the change of heart seems to be a growing body of evidence of just how deadly distracted driving is. As Slate reports, about 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are believed to be caused by smartphone use. Meanwhile, a separate study found that texting bans may have reduced nationwide traffic fatalities by three percent.

The bill is expected to pass the House soon and to then pass the Senate sometime in the spring.

Personal injury law

A traffic accident can be a devastating experience, especially if it results in serious injuries. The cost of medical bills, physiotherapy, lost income, property damage, and more can be substantial. That's why anybody hurt in an accident needs to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can show clients what legal avenues they have available to them and can even help them make a strong case for any compensation they may be eligible for.