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Text-ban gutted, shelved, critics say

by John Kennedy | April 30th, 2013

A texting-while-driving ban hit a rough patch Tuesday after the Florida House agreed to sharply restrict law enforcement’s access to phone records.

The amendment, pushed by Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, was approved 73-46. But many text-ban supporters said the timing of the provision threatens the bill as lawmakers race toward the legislative session’s scheduled Friday finish.

Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, also warned that the change in the bill (CS/SB 52) also would eliminate the possibility of prosecuting anyone for texting behind the wheel.

“From a policy standpoint, this really takes away the ability of the prosecutor to prove the case,” Waldman said.

Oliva’s amendment prohibits a motorist’s cell phone records from being used by prosecutors, except in a case involving a crash resulting in death or personal injury. The Senate approved the legislation two weeks ago on a 36-0 vote.

But with the session winding down, the bill – with the new House provision — must go back to the Senate for approval.

Oliva defended his amendment as aimed at safeguarding the rights of Floridians.

“It only speaks to civil liberties,” Oliva said. “It does nothing to the core functions of the law.”

Under the legislation,  texting while driving would be a secondary offense. Motorists could be ticketed only if law enforcement officials stopped them for another reason.

A ticket could cost first-time offenders $30, plus court costs. But the bill includes exemptions allowing people to use phones to check maps, use voice-commands or listen to the radio through their phones.

Drivers also could text while stopped at a light, under the legislation. Talking on a cell phone would not be restricted.

Florida would become the 40th state in the nation with a text-while-driving ban, if the legislation resurfaces and is approved in the session’s closing days. Gov. Rick Scott has indicated he supports the ban.

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18 Responses to “Text-ban gutted, shelved, critics say”

  1. Vernon Says:

    Congratulations Florida, you’re well on your way to retaining your position as the #1 deadliest for drivers, #1 deadliest for pedestrians, and #1 deadliest for bicyclists, not to mention one of the most expensive states to insure a motor vehicle! Here’s to the deplorable status quo!

  2. Mike Says:

    This law won’t stop a single person from texting. It’s a secondary offense so you can keep texting, answering emails, playing Angry Birds…All while driving down 95
    No wonder we have so many rollovers during rush hour

  3. digital Says:

    Thank God I have 1080p cameras that cover 360 degrees while I’m driving. Want to know if you are in the video, search Youtube for your car’s tag.

  4. Mill Run Says:

    digital, without further explanation, you sound beyond creepy.

  5. WannyOB Says:

    @digital, thank God I have Ol’ Betsy on the seat next to me when you drift over into my lane. No video on YouTube, sorry.

  6. timtopper Says:

    the numbnuts in Tallahassee can find the time to make “bongs” illegal to purchase, as if that is going to add anything to the health and well-being of our state. Yet, they can’t get a simple anti-texting bill passed. Remember who these incumbents are next year–vote them out!!

  7. ELC Says:

    As usual the idiots in Tallahassee don’t care about the majority of drivers on the road. Banning texting while driving should be #1 priority. These people can’t control their cars when they are talking so texting should cause much more accidents. I really want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. Just hope their family or friends aren’t killed by a driver texting on the road. They will have no one to blame except themselves-the fools.

  8. LibertyOverSecurity Says:

    Thank you Rep. Oliva for addressing one of my concerns regarding this bill. Although I’m not sure the bill would pass constitutional muster anyway, at least now LEO’s wouldn’t theoretically be able to access someone’s private, sensitive info without a warrant.

  9. LibertyOverSecurityREALLY? Says:

    Hello LibertyOverSecurity. I particularly like this statement you have made.

    “at least now LEO’s wouldn’t theoretically be able to access someone’s private, sensitive info without a warrant.”

    Hate to break to ya, but they do it everyday! Have you checked your DAVID audits and FDLE TAR reports lately? Never know when a law enforcement agency steps over the line. They do it without a warrant and without an official law enforcement purpose.

  10. Mark Says:

    As a business owner, passing a no texting law is a bad idea. I get so much done while driving down the road and it saves me so much time. If I don’t answer emails right away, I could lose business

  11. nemo Says:

    If I am in a motor vehicle accident, caused by someone texting, or even speaking on a cellphone, will the police, as part of their investigation, subpoena the phone records of the offeding driver? If so, does the fact that that person was being inattentive, come into play as cause for the accident? In other words…am I screwed, or will the above be investigated by the police?

  12. Hank Shae Says:

    How about driving tests for those over 65..old confused drivers are a menace…I got hit while at a stop light..the policeman called it DWO…driving while old..

  13. gethefax Says:

    Another Law. More work for Law Enforcement. More money for Attorneys. This all equals millions of tax payer dollars spent on irresponsible TEXSTERS!!!

  14. AB Says:

    Just when I think this state cannot get any dumber……
    In a couple years all you’ll be left with is food stampers’, illegal immigrants, & all their children.

  15. michael casella Says:

    HOW ABOUT ANYONE HOLDING A PHONE WHILE DRIVING GETS A $150.00 TICKET.

    IN A SCHOOL ZONE $250.00

    BUT THAT’S TO SIMPLE FO FLORIDA.

  16. throbo Says:

    Texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. Do our Lawmakers not know this?

  17. Mark Says:

    I hope it fails so I can continue to text while driving

  18. Dana Holman Says:

    Actually picture is the display of some one’s feelings; it presents the lesson to the users.

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