Texting-While-Driving Bill Motors Ahead in House

By: Dave Heller | Posted: April 4, 2013 3:55 AM

Doug Holder

Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice | Credit: Dave Heller

Legislation to ban texting while driving in Florida is cruising ahead in the Florida House with plenty of support, and that’s a stark contrast to past years.

On Wednesday morning a House committee passed a bill that would ban texting while driving. The legislation has never before made it so far in this House. It passed the Senate last year, but did not get through the junior chamber.

The bill bans drivers from texting while they’re driving, but they would still be able to text when the car is at a stoplight or stuck in traffic.

On Wednesday morning students at the Capitol had a chance to see what it’s like to try to drive and text at the same time on a computer simulator. Cody Taylor of Jacksonville swerved and crashed on the machine.

Opponents have criticized the legislation as another way for government to intrude in people’s lives.

Supporters insist it’s a safety issue. They say studies show texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving drunk.

Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, is fighting hard for the bill. “It’s like an epidemic out there with texting and driving," he said. "This bill isn’t everything we wanted it to be. However, it’s a little bite at the apple and we have to start somewhere and I’m just so happy it’s moving in the House of Representatives.”

Said Cody Taylor of Jacksonville, “You can’t see the road. You don’t know where you’re going and the next thing you know, you hit behind a car.”

Molly Londot of Tallahassee explained her point of view: “I think texting and driving is kind of bad because 11 teen deaths happen every day because of texting and driving.”

Florida is one of a half dozen states without any restrictions on texting while driving.

Bill sponsor Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, says making that practice illegal sends a strong message to adults and young drivers, and he hopes the bill helps change people’s driving behavior in the future.

The bill is a secondary offense, meaning police could not pull you over for that violation. It would be a non-moving violation for first offenses with a $30 fine plus court costs, which can range from $78 - $129.

Second offenses would include a $60 fine plus court costs, and an assessment of three points on your driver’s license.

Video Credit: Dave Heller

Dave Heller is a Tallahassee freelance reporter/videographer. 


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