Proposed bill could make texting and driving in Florida primary offense

By: Christopher Heath

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The speaker of the Florida House has backed a proposed bill that would make texting and driving in Florida a primary offense.

The current law only allows law enforcement to pull over a driver for something else, then issue a ticket for texting while driving.

Florida is one of four states where law enforcement can’t pull over a driver for texting while driving.

Read: New bill would target Florida teen drivers for texting while driving

Florida House Speaker Rep. Richard Corcoran (R) said it’s time for Florida to catch up with other states.

"It's time to make sure that that behavior gets curbed, and we are confident that it will be,” Corcoran said.

Drivers would be banned from texting, emailing and instant messaging under the proposed bill.

Read: Florida Drivers Most Concerned About Texting While Driving, AAA Says

Exemptions would be made for reporting an emergency or criminal activity, use of navigation, or reading safety related or weather alerts.

If a driver is pulled over, law enforcement may not access their device without a warrant, confiscate the device without a warrant or use intimidation tactics to get the device.

Distracted driving was responsible for more than 50,000 car crashes last year in Florida.

Watch: Process of being booked in jail

A driver looking down at their phone for just a few seconds while traveling 55 miles per hour is the same as driving the length of a football field.

Critics have raised questions that if passed, the law could be used for profiling. Former Sen. Geraldine Thompson dismisses that motion.

"The issue of profiling was raised when we required the use of seat belts, and we've not seen that born out,” Thompson said.

If a driver is caught texting while driving, the first offense would carry a $30 fine plus court costs. A second violation within five years doubles the fine.

Watch below: 9 facts about distracted driving:

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