Texting Ban May Soon Be Enforced on Florida’s Deadly Roads

Megalith

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Florida remains one of the few states in which texting while driving isn’t considered a primary offense, but that could be changing with a new bill being considered by the Legislature. It is hard to say what kind of effect it would have, if any: the penalty would merely be $30 plus court costs; no points would be added to the driver’s record.

Currently, Florida law says texting by noncommercial drivers is a secondary offense - law enforcement officers must see another violation like speeding or an illegal lane change before they cite a driver for texting. The bill would make texting a primary offense. The fine for a first offense would remain $30 plus court costs and add no points to the driver’s record. Previous attempts have failed, but this bill has support from legislative leaders.
 

kirbyrj

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1). Texting bans are virtually impossible for police to enforce. Dialing a number isn't a violation, and people just tell the cop that they were "dialing." Coupled with the fact that the police can't ask to see the phone to verify texting without a search warrant. No cop is going to do a search warrant on a phone for a summary violation unless they have reason to believe that texting causing a crash resulting in a death. Most of the cops I know don't even enforce it. If they see someone they believe is texting they cite them for "careless driving" instead of texting as it is easy to testify that the individual was looking at their phone and not the road while driving.

2). The "plus court costs" is key. Most fines in PA are $25, but the cost of a ticket is $140 after the courts get done adding their fees.
 

homernoy

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It's too bad these laws seem to have little or no effect on people texting while driving. I see it everyday in the Seattle area, and there doesn't seem to any fewer people doing it since the laws were past. They need to have very harsh punishments for this, like maybe DUI tough since it causes accidents every day. Then people would take texting while driving seriously.
 

kirbyrj

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If people were serious about the issue, they would completely ban cell phone use while driving. If a cop sees a cell phone in your hand, it's a violation just like it is for commercial drivers.
 

Susquehannock

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It is about time Florida get with the program.

Here in MD we have "Jake's Law". Named after a boy who was killed in the back seat of his Mom's SUV while stopped at a red light when a texting distracted driver rear ended them at full speed. Under the law, those caught texting can be fined $70 and receive one point. But if the action is judged to have caused an accident, the fine increases to $110 and the number of points to three. Furthermore, the law mandates those involved in serious crashes to give police basic information about their cellphones, so detectives can more quickly check what they were doing at the moment of impact.

This is a topic I can relate to personally. Couple years ago I was rear ended while stopped in traffic and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance. Turns out the guy was texting at the time. Not a good way for the 16 year old to start off his driving record.

[edit]
If people were serious about the issue, they would completely ban cell phone use while driving. If a cop sees a cell phone in your hand, it's a violation just like it is for commercial drivers.
That is way it is here. Drivers are not allowed to have cell phone in hand for any reason. Even stopped at a red light. Friend's daughter got a violation for exactly that actually.
 

ir0nw0lf

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We are a little slow here in Florida... :ROFLMAO: Hopefully this will go through this time. It's a good start It certainly won't deter the hard core texters or people who don't give three craps about paying a fine, esp. if you don't get any points.
 

Mut1ny

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Should be mandatory 1 week in jail if caught.

Still...hard to prove. I'm of the mind that texting while driving should be treated to nearly DUI status. Every time I've almost gotten into an accident the other person is COMPLETELY oblivious to the fact because they're on their fucking cellphone. Every goddamn time. Sure, they may not be technically drunk but their clearly impaired.

Now, I'm not perfect, I'll check my shit real quick sometimes...but only when it's me around or in my immediate area. These people that can't put their phone down for a second or are looking at it while driving through an intersection? Nah, not cool with that, at all.

It's also hard to have such strict laws. What if I am dialing a number or looked down for a second the one time I check while a cop just happens to be next to me. Happened to me with a seatbelt ticket. Out in the middle of New Mexico...two lane highway with no one as far as I could see. I decided to take my seatbelt off which, the car I was renting had an incredibly uncomfortable one, dug into my collarbone. I pass an underpass 20 seconds later and look over 5 seconds after that and have a cop car cruising next to me with the cop looking at me stretching his seatbelt out to signify I didn't have mine on. Ticket.

I wasn't hurting anyone, putting anyone in danger, no one should have even seen me or been out there...doesn't matter...little things can bite you in the ass. A week in jail though? That means most people would lose their jobs and more, completely ruin their lives. That's a tad extreme for doing something I never do that otherwise isn't an immediate threat or premeditated course of action to hurt someone, ya know?

BUT...AGAIN...it's hard to say considering my own experiences with those on cellphones. Very gray area...
 

Slade

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They upped it in Ontario, Canada $490 here and potential $1k if you fight in court and lose + 3 points. Sadly the stats seem to indicate the numbers going up instead of down.
 

0neTwo

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Still...hard to prove. I'm of the mind that texting while driving should be treated to nearly DUI status. Every time I've almost gotten into an accident the other person is COMPLETELY oblivious to the fact because they're on their fucking cellphone. Every goddamn time. Sure, they may not be technically drunk but their clearly impaired.

Now, I'm not perfect, I'll check my shit real quick sometimes...but only when it's me around or in my immediate area. These people that can't put their phone down for a second or are looking at it while driving through an intersection? Nah, not cool with that, at all.

It's also hard to have such strict laws. What if I am dialing a number or looked down for a second the one time I check while a cop just happens to be next to me. Happened to me with a seatbelt ticket. Out in the middle of New Mexico...two lane highway with no one as far as I could see. I decided to take my seatbelt off which, the car I was renting had an incredibly uncomfortable one, dug into my collarbone. I pass an underpass 20 seconds later and look over 5 seconds after that and have a cop car cruising next to me with the cop looking at me stretching his seatbelt out to signify I didn't have mine on. Ticket.

I wasn't hurting anyone, putting anyone in danger, no one should have even seen me or been out there...doesn't matter...little things can bite you in the ass. A week in jail though? That means most people would lose their jobs and more, completely ruin their lives. That's a tad extreme for doing something I never do that otherwise isn't an immediate threat or premeditated course of action to hurt someone, ya know?

BUT...AGAIN...it's hard to say considering my own experiences with those on cellphones. Very gray area...
Agree its near impossible to enforce. Mainly directing the anger to the people who are reading/writing a book while (not) operating a 2 ton chunk of metal going 60+mph...
 

Nukester

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As a person who jogs/walks 2 hours a day on the roads. PUT THE FUCKER IN JAIL. Do you know how many times I've had to dart out of the way of people on their phones. Even with texting laws. Nobody needs to text or look at their phone while in the car. PULL OVER if you need to use it. Would you want someone's death on your conciounce because you wanted to "like" something on facebook?
 

tunatime

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As a person who jogs/walks 2 hours a day on the roads. PUT THE FUCKER IN JAIL. Do you know how many times I've had to dart out of the way of people on their phones. Even with texting laws. Nobody needs to text or look at their phone while in the car. PULL OVER if you need to use it. Would you want someone's death on your conciounce because you wanted to "like" something on facebook?
I disagree, you shouldn't be texting but if you have 1/2 a brain you should be able to look at your phone while still watching the road to answer or make a call with no trouble in most driving conditions.
 

LigTasm

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As a person who jogs/walks 2 hours a day on the roads. PUT THE FUCKER IN JAIL. Do you know how many times I've had to dart out of the way of people on their phones. Even with texting laws. Nobody needs to text or look at their phone while in the car. PULL OVER if you need to use it. Would you want someone's death on your conciounce because you wanted to "like" something on facebook?

How in the unholy hell do you have time for 2 hours of yogging a day? I need to know your secrets.
 
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My wife and son were rear ended by a 20 year old while he was texting. No serious injuries to anyone, thank goodness. Any laws that punish texting drivers are good laws IMHO. :) Personally I would love to see a one week jail sentence for first time offenders as OneTwo above me said.
 

RussianJ

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I was hit by a driver distracted while texting. How would they effectively police it? Locally your get a nice ticket if texting contributed to the wreck.
 

RPGWiZaRD

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I'm very reluctantly even answering in phone while driving (my current car doesn't have bluetooth) as that also worsens your awareness (most of the time I don't answer unless I know there's a very important call coming). Texting/doing something on the phone while driving I don't even understand why people are doing cuz you should not. I'd gladly see strong law enforcement on this particular thing as people are too stupid to use common sense.
 

griffinhart

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It's too bad these laws seem to have little or no effect on people texting while driving. I see it everyday in the Seattle area, and there doesn't seem to any fewer people doing it since the laws were past. They need to have very harsh punishments for this, like maybe DUI tough since it causes accidents every day. Then people would take texting while driving seriously.
While I haven't seen any new statistics for the area to confirm, my personal sense is that they don't really fix any problems. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire have passed hands free driving laws and I haven't noticed any drops of cell phone stupidity.

I think part of the issue is how difficult it is to actually catch someone in the act. My boss has been pulled over once for answering his phone while driving (his 1990's Miata, no bluetooth), but honestly, I don't find talking on the phone nearly as dangerous as texting on it. Something you can do without moving the phone above the window line.
 
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The fine for a first offense would remain $30 plus court costs and add no points to the driver’s record. Previous attempts have failed, but this bill has support from legislative leaders.

A $30 fine is embarrassing Florida. Get with the program.

1). Texting bans are virtually impossible for police to enforce. Dialing a number isn't a violation, and people just tell the cop that they were "dialing."

Any jurisdiction that requires the police to prove that someone was texting is doing it wrong. Like others have said, if the device is in your hand while you're driving, the charge is proven. There are hands free devices out there if you have to make a quick call.
 
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1_rick

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2). The "plus court costs" is key. Most fines in PA are $25, but the cost of a ticket is $140 after the courts get done adding their fees.

When you see fines--particularly the kind of escalating court fees you mention here--and no points, you know this isn't actually about safety, it's about money. Watch as, over a couple of years, the various fees attached to one of these tickets go over $300 or more.
 

BB Gun

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If people were serious about the issue, they would completely ban cell phone use while driving. If a cop sees a cell phone in your hand, it's a violation just like it is for commercial drivers.

That's the law here in WA now.

BB
 

Krenum

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They just need to be pulled out of their car and beaten with ball bat.

Agreed

 

Nukester

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How in the unholy hell do you have time for 2 hours of yogging a day? I need to know your secrets.

Medical need. I've got to lose another 25lbs. I've lost 50 this year. 25 more lbs and I'll be back to my high school weight. My back and feet problems have all but disappeared from the weight loss.
 

gwarren007

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Fine them $30 - wont get their attention

Fine $365
Have them take the driver test again (re-certification)
1 point on their licence.


that will get attention....
 

ChoGGi

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If people were serious about the issue, they would completely ban cell phone use while driving. If a cop sees a cell phone in your hand, it's a violation just like it is for commercial drivers.
That is way it is here. Drivers are not allowed to have cell phone in hand for any reason. Even stopped at a red light. Friend's daughter got a violation for exactly that actually.
Doesn't that make people hold the phone further down where it's harder for the police to see, and for drivers to see the road?
 

Draax

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Fines and punishment can only do so much. Texting while driving can only be combated by people deeming the practice social unacceptable behaviour. The real problem is that far too many people don’t think it’s an issue or think they can drive just fine and text (they can’t) which is directly contradictory to the mountains of data on the subject. Who are these people who are so important that a text has to be answered immediately?

I am glad it is taken seriously where I live. $490 fine or $1000 if you receive a summons and 3 demerit points.
 

umeng2002

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I never text and drive.

I do update Instagram and select music and navigate with my cellphone while driving, though.
 

umeng2002

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Fine them $30 - wont get their attention

Fine $365
Have them take the driver test again (re-certification)
1 point on their licence.


that will get attention....

That will also financially ruin low income people to the point where they can't afford a car and can't work and lose their job.
 

JMccovery

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That will also financially ruin low income people to the point where they can't afford a car and can't work and lose their job.

This is where that thing called "common sense" comes into play. If you can't afford the fine from being caught texting while driving, DON'T DO IT.
 

WorldExclusive

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Florida Man here.

I just hate when the light turns green we are just sitting there waiting for the person to finish their text. The majority of people still don't know to use voice to text. So much faster.
I have a newer model truck so I can also use Siri to send voice texts.
 

Slade

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The "texting" law here is not actually a texting law, its a distracted driving law. So the officer's onus is just to say in a situation, you were distracted. They have done some really easy stings to catch people, like ride on buses observing cars, ride in trucks in traffic. Just stand in the construction zones to observe drivers. TBH, in the middle of congested traffic is where my buddy got his front end clipped by somebody texting at a light. People were honking for the guy to go so they started using the right lane to get around. My buddy's car was the 6th one and the "texter" finally realized he should go and FLOORED it. Caused like a few hundred damage on his fender and bumper, but the texter's car looked like he hit a wall. Witnesses pretty much corroborated the story so the texter is in a ton of trouble right now.
 

Geef

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If people were serious about the issue, they would completely ban cell phone use while driving. If a cop sees a cell phone in your hand, it's a violation just like it is for commercial drivers.

This is what Washington state does. It is illegal to hold a phone while driving.
 

c3k

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Somewhere, innocent until proven guilty is being forgotten.

A cop says it, so it’s true?
 

kirbyrj

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Fine them $30 - wont get their attention

Fine $365
Have them take the driver test again (re-certification)
1 point on their licence.


that will get attention....

Magistrates would just reduce the violation to some other violation. Remember...your local yokel district judges are elected. In PA it doesn't make a difference. They wanted to get tough on DUI's and made a mandatory 30 day jail sentence for driving with a DUI suspended license. That never goes through...always gets knocked down to driving without a license...pay a fine. The same thing would happen here. "But judge, I can't afford a $365 fine or take the time to get my license renewed." And it gets knocked down to not using a turn signal or some other nonsense.
 

kirbyrj

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Somewhere, innocent until proven guilty is being forgotten.

A cop says it, so it’s true?

Not with his new fancy body camera. I've already seen cops just play tapes and get guilty verdicts on traffic stops.
 
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