Lawmakers take up proposed ban on texting while driving

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 26, 2012

For the fourth year in a row, Florida lawmakers will take up a proposed ban on texting and driving, and this time the ban could pass.

Under a newly-filed bill, texting while driving would be considered a non-moving violation, which would carry a $30 fine.

Kent Hutchinson said he thinks a crackdown is long overdue.

"There's usefulness for it, but not while you're driving," he said. "I mean, the whole idea behind being able to get a text message is you can answer it at your own leisure and at your own pace.  You don't have to answer it right now."

For years now, the message being sent by a select group of lawmakers has been that a ban on texting while driving would violate peoples' liberties, but a lot has changed since Election Day.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee said the two lawmakers who were most opposed to a texting ban are no longer in the Legislature. What's more, the bill would make texting a secondary offense.  You can only be ticketed if you are pulled over for something else.  Also, checking a GPS or the weather would be OK.

It's a compromise designed to win enough support to pass.

"We have other laws in place folks can argue are infringements on their liberties," Williams said. "But they're in place and they save lives and, you know what, if we have to take a little bit of discomfort or lack of freedom in order to save someone's life, I think, as policymakers, we should be looking at that."

Florida is one of only seven states with no restrictions at all on texting behind the wheel.