Watered-down ban on texting and driving on its way to Gov. Scottby Dara Kam | May 2nd, 2013
It could soon be against the law to text and drive under a diluted ban on its way to Gov. Rick Scott.
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, asked her colleagues to support the House version of the bill (SB 52) despite a provision that prohibits a motorist’s cell phone records being used by prosecutors except in cases involving a crash resulting in death or personal injury. The Senate passed the measure with a 39-1 vote, with Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, casting the only “no” vote.
For three years, the Florida House has refused to sign off on the texting and driving ban.
“For the first time ever they have a speaker over there that allowed them to speak on this bill. That was the good news. The bad news was I didn’t like what they said,” Detert said this afternoon.
Critics of the modified bill say it will make it harder for law enforcement to prove drivers were texting. The measure makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers would have to be pulled over for something else in order to get a ticket for texting.
Drivers who do get ticketed for texting can voluntarily bring their own records to court to prove they weren’t breaking the law, Detert said.
“And frankly they probably won’t do that over a $30 ticket,” she said.
Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, asked if the amendment regarding the phone records “doesn’t take all the meat and potatoes” out of the bill, approved unanimously in its original version by the Senate earlier in the session.
But Detert said it was better to pass the ban instead of changing it and sending it back to the House where it could risk languishing before the session ends tomorrow.
“Basically this bill is still a good bill. It still will allow parents today to say to their kids don’t text while driving it’s against the law,” Detert said. “It really will save lives and it boils down to it’s either against the law or not.”