Texting while Driving Could be a Primary Offense.
Florida is one of five states that does not regulate texting while driving as a primary offense, which allows a law enforcement officer to issue a traffic citation for the texting offense without any other traffic violation taking place. Florida’s current law classifies texting while driving as a secondary offense; thus, in Florida, a driver may only be ticketed for texting while driving if he or she is stopped for another offense (such as speeding). Since implementation of the current law in October 2013, only a minimum amount of traffic citations have been issued for texting while driving. Because the law is difficult to enforce as a secondary offense, Florida drivers are not very discouraged from this dangerous behavior.
However, Florida’s texting-while-driving law may soon be strengthened. The sixty-day 2016 legislative session began on January 12, and lawmakers will consider Senate Bill 328 filed by Senator Thad Altman, which seeks to amend Florida Statute §316.305 to ensure that texting while driving is a primary offense. More specifically, the Bill seeks to “authorize law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations as a primary offense to persons who are texting while driving.” If passed, drivers could be pulled over and cited if observed reading or sending a text message, email or instant message on a phone while operating a vehicle.
Although texting while driving is banned as a primary offense in all but five states, prior efforts to strengthen Florida’s law have been unsuccessful. Those opposed to the texting-while-driving ban have supported their position by citing to limitations on personal freedom and/or unreasonable government intrusion or infringement upon civil liberties. However, texting while driving has become such a dangerous epidemic, and too many fatal accidents have occurred due to the unnecessary use of cell phones or other distracting devices while driving. Because there is a heightened public awareness of Florida’s distracted driving problem, Senate Bill 328 has been tagged as one to watch during this legislative session, which ends on March 11, 2016.
Don’t Text and Drive in Tampa
It is likely that Florida’s texting-while-driving law will be amended one day. Our Tampa lawyers understand the urge to multitask while driving; however, the Capaz Law Firm urges drivers to focus on the road and put down their phones while behind the wheel.
Consider the following tips to practice safe driving in Tampa:
- Put your phone in the glove compartment or the trunk
- Designate a passenger to text for you
- Download an app to prevent texting and driving
- Set your phone to airplane mode while driving
Experienced Tampa Car Accident Trial Lawyer
The Tampa attorneys at Capaz Law Firm handle a wide range of car accident cases, including accidents involving distracted drivers who text and drive. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, contact our Tampa accident lawyers to schedule a case evaluation.