Texting and driving in Florida to be primary offense under new bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new bill introduced in the Florida legislature this morning would make texting and driving a primary offense.

Bill HB 33 filed by Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) and Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) would significantly increase the penalties for those who drive and text.

According to Toledo, there were over 45,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida in 2015, accounting for 39,000 injuries and 200 fatalities.

The bill would change the current enforcement of the ban from secondary to primary with the following penalties:

  • First violation remains non-moving violation carrying a $30 fine plus court costs for total of $108.
  • Second or subsequent violations within five years becomes a moving violation with a $158 total fine and three points added to license.
  • Violation that causes crash adds six points to license.
  • Violation committed in school safety zone would add two additional points to license.

Officers who make traffic stops for texting and driving would still require a warrant to access a driver's phone.

“Providing law enforcement with the ability to enforce the 'Texting While Driving Ban' as a primary offense will save lives and prevent injuries." said Slosberg. "I've been contacted by constituents with stories about parents dying, kids dying, and it is time that we take action.”