Texting While Driving Law May Get Harsher PenaltiesPublished: Dec 05, 2016 by Erika Valcarcel
Florida State Representatives Richard Stark (D-Dist. 104) and Emily Slosberg (D-Dist. 91) want drivers to think twice before texting while driving. They recently introduced House Bills 47 and 69, which would enable police officers to pull over drivers for texting as a primary offense. Right now, Florida only allows law enforcement to ticket drivers for texting or other distractions while driving as a secondary offense. Police must first stop the driver for breaking the law in another way, like speeding.
It may technically be against the law to text and drive, however, the current statute does little to dissuade individuals using their phones while driving or to punish them if they are caught. Legislators want to make a stronger law that will truly deter such dangerous behavior.
If you have been cited for texting while driving along with another offense, contact a Florida traffic lawyer with Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900. We will help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Florida’s Current Ban on Texting While Driving Law
Under section 316.305(3)(a) of the motor vehicle code, a person may not operate a vehicle while manually typing or entering letters, characters, numbers, or symbols into any wireless communication device or while sending or reading data on such a device. This means drivers are not allowed to read or send texts, emails, or other instance messages like snaps on a cell phone, iPad, or other devices while their vehicles are in motion.
The law may seem clear, however, its effectiveness is currently diminished by section 316.305(2)(d), which states law enforcement officers can only stop vehicles and issue citations for this law as a secondary offense. What’s more, section 316.305(4)(a) makes texting while driving a noncriminal, nonmoving traffic infraction punishable by a fine.
If HB 47 were to pass, it would remove the language from Florida’s current texting while driving ban that makes it a secondary offense. This would allow police to pull over individuals specifically for being distracted behind the wheel. Another amendment to the current law would also create a harsher punishment for when people are found on their phones within a posted school zone or designated school crossing. In this situation, the fine would be doubled.
Slosberg also sponsored a bill that would make texting while driving a primary offense for adolescent drivers. Lt. Eddie Elmore of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stated this is a step in the right direction, similar to how seat belt laws formed over the years. First, not wearing a seat belt was a secondary offense. Then, it was a primary offense for youths and finally, it become a primary offense for everyone.
If You Have Been Ticketed, Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
If you were ticketed for texting while driving along with another offense, like speeding, driving without a seat belt, or making an unlawful maneuver, call Sarasota traffic lawyer Erika Valcarcel right away. You do not have to automatically pay a fine if you are innocent of a charge. You can head to court and fight. By scheduling an appointment, you can explain your situation and learn the best way to handle your tickets.