Another legislative season will soon be upon us and with it will come revisions of current laws and proposals for new laws. In a repeat move from last year, a legislator is proposing a bill that would toughen Florida’s texting while driving laws. The proposed legislation comes as Florida has come under scrutiny for having laws that are too lax on texting and driving.
Another reason for the focus on texting and driving laws in this legislative session is because of the problem it is becoming on our nation’s roads. There is a great infographic published on the internet that shows just how dangerous texting and driving can be. According to the most recently published statistics, texting and driving:
Causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, inflicting over 300,000 injuries;
Causes close to 11 deaths per day among teens;
Increases the risk of getting into an accident by 23 times;
Is more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk is.
These are just some of the startling facts about texting and driving that should cause all of us to pause and think about our driving habits.
What the Law Would Do
If passed, the proposed law would toughen the current penalties for texting and driving. Under the proposed penalties texting and driving would get a $60 penalty instead of a $30 penalty. But this new penalty would only apply when the driver is caught texting and driving while in a school zone. This would effectively leave the rest of Florida's texting and driving laws unchanged.
Perhaps one of the reasons this newest law does not do as much to toughen Florida’s texting while driving laws as it should is because last year’s proposal did not pass a vote. Under the provisions of last year’s proposal texting and driving would have been considered a primary offense, meaning the police could pull someone over and cite them for texting and driving without the person speeding or committing some other offense.
Florida’s Current Texting and Driving Laws
The current texting and driving laws in Florida were passed in 2013. Under the current law, found in Florida Statutes 316.305, it is illegal to text and drive, but it is only a secondary offense. As discussed above, this means that prior to the police citing someone for violating the law, the driver would have to be violating some other traffic law as well. In addition there are carve outs in the law that exempt someone from the ban on texting and driving. These are some of the reasons why the law has received so much criticism.
There are laws that deal with texting and driving beyond the criminal laws. At The Pittman Firm we are equipped with the experience to fight for you when the negligence of others causes harm to you or a loved one. There is no doubt that accidents caused by texting and driving constitutes negligence. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving texting and driving in the Panama City area, contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you and providing you with your legal options.