Cellphone records could help officers in texting while driving cases


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Cellphone records could soon be what law enforcement officers use to give drivers a ticket for texting. It's part of new texting bill making its way through the Florida legislature.

When WFTV reporter Racquel Asa looked through the latest proposal she found that allowing a user's billing records, like text messages, to be used as evidence to write a driver a ticket is included.

"I'd rather be safe, and if that's the way they can give tickets then maybe that'll reduce the number of people who text while they drive," said local driver Raquel Cunningham

Several years ago Florida Highway Patrol retrieved the cellphone records of the driver in a fatal crash on Goldenrod Road in Orange County.

Two girls died in the accident. Witnesses told police that the driver who hit them was on her cellphone.

"Right now, how we use those cellphone records is simply to add to our crash investigation," said Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Cellphone records will allow officers to match up the time they pulled a driver over with the time that driver sent a text. Without the records, officers would have to rely on the driver telling the truth or someone else catching the driver in the act.

Officers would also have to pull a driver over for something more serious, like running a red light or speeding.
A violation would mean a fine of $30 the first time and $60 for a second violation.   

"It should be a lot stiffer of a punishment to teach people a lesson," said driver John Clapp.

Safety advocates said while this bill isn't everything they want, they'll keep pushing.

"We're not going to let this go. We're going to see a bill enacted having to do with texting and driving that hopefully will be a deterrent," said Glenn Victor of the Florida Safety Council.

The bill also would mean six points on a driver's license if they cause a crash while texting.

Getting caught driving and texting in a school zone would mean two points on a license.

The bill still needs full legislative approval, but if enacted it could go into effect in October.