Texting While Driving Laws Are Getting Tougher
Lawmakers in Florida are calling for stricter laws regarding distracted driving, like texting.
Distracted Driving is a Secondary Offense
Lawmakers are aware of the texting behind the wheel problem, which is why it is illegal to text and drive in Florida and has been since 2013. However, texting is not a primary offense.
That means that drivers cannot be pulled over just for texting and driving. If they are pulled over for something else (for example, speeding or reckless driving) they can then also be cited for texting. Lawmakers now want to change this to make texting a primary offense, allowing officers to pull over and cite drivers who are texting behind the wheel.
New Law Will Make Texting While Driving a Primary Offense
The initial bill considered by the Florida Legislature in 2019 barred almost any kind of distraction behind the wheel such as putting on makeup, eating lunch, or hands-free talking on a cellphone while driving.
The bill has been amended to pare down restricting only text messaging while driving. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to pass. Hands free talking is expected to remain legal while driving.
The law is also expected to have a three-month grace period, where officers can pull drivers over and issue warnings without issuing citations.
Evidentiary Questions Remain
In cases involving texts, police may want to obtain the billing records of drivers who are involved in accidents. The law only allows billing records to be used as evidence in cases where there is a death or a serious injury. It is unknown whether that evidentiary restriction would apply only to criminal cases, or also to civil negligence actions.
It is important to remember that drivers may be negligent even if their actions are not a violation of criminal law. For example, under the proposed new law, an officer cannot pull a driver over for playing with their pet while driving. However, if a driver is distracted with a pet, and causes an accident, the driver may still be found negligent and, thus, liable for injuries caused in an accident.
Make sure that you pursue all available damages if you are injured in a car accident. Contact the Celeste Law Firm in West Palm Beach today to discuss compensation for your injuries with a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.