FLORIDA — A bill to make texting-while-driving a primary offense in Florida is headed to the governor's desk for his signature after the state House passed it Monday afternoon.
- HB 107 passed by Florida House late Monday afternoon
- It allows drivers to be pulled over for texting while driving
- Florida set to become 44th state to have this ban
- Officers also must tell drivers they have right to decline phone search
- RELATED: Florida Senate OKs Texting While Driving Bill, With Changes
- FLORIDA GOVERNMENT GUIDE:
The current bill that passed both chambers in Tallahassee allows law enforcement to pull over a driver simply for texting while driving.
There has been growing support for such a ban for some time. Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says more than 200 people died in crashes last year in this state involving people texting while driving.
The bill passed the House on Monday 108-7. A first offense can draw a $30 fine, with a second offense costing $60. Court costs and fees also would apply. Only warnings will be given until January, when officers can write citations.
With just five days left before this year's legislative session ends Friday, lawmakers are poised to work into the 11th hour on several major issues.
The law right now makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning a driver would have to be stopped first for another reason such as speeding.
"Texting and driving is irresponsible, because everyone should come home at night and it's not worth risking your life," said Brianna Thomas, a Florida resident.
When signed by the governor, Florida would become the 44th state in the country with such a ban in place.
The bill would also require law enforcement officers to tell you that you can decline a search of your cell phone without a warrant.
Law enforcement officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of those pulled over.
A version of the bill also bans using any electronic device while going through work and school zones.
However, using a GPS app on a smartphone is fine as long as it is in a hands-free mode.
Reporter Matt Fernandez contributed to this story.