Cell phones are involved in 27 percent of all motor vehicle collisions, according to the National Safety Council. While talking on the phone, finding a contact, or even reaching for the phone to answer it greatly increase a driver’s chances of crashing, it is legal in Florida. Texting while driving, which is even more hazardous than talking on the phone, is not legal, though currently it is only a secondary offense. That may all be about to change, as Florida lawmakers are considering to upgrade texting and driving to a primary offense, according to Dothan Eagle.
The Frequency of Texting and Driving Citations, as Well as the Size of Fine, Could Increase if Bill Passes
Texting and driving is currently a secondary driving offense in Florida, meaning that a police officer cannot pull you over simply because they saw you texting on your phone. As it is, Florida’s texting law is rarely invoked. The fine is between $115 and $125 depending on the county where the infraction occurred, and police in Florida and across the country do not have a lot of impetus to fine offenders due to a variety of reasons. For one, the fine is low. Secondly, in Florida it is a secondary offense so the driver would have to be violating a primary offense, such as speeding or veering in and out of their lane, for law enforcement to fine them for texting. However, this may be changing, as seen by the possible move by the Florida Legislature to change the law. According to Florida Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant. Eddie Elmore, “Texting and driving has played a role in accidents here in Florida. We want everyone traveling our highways to be safe, slow down, obey the law, and don’t become a distracted driver.” The fine for texting and driving may also possibly be increased if the bill passes to make texting and driving a primary offense.
Opposition to the New Law Due to Racial Bias in Law Enforcement
Some lawmakers are in opposition to the new law that would allow police to pull drivers over more easily. According to Representative Sean Shaw, D-Tampa, “I don’t really want to create another instance where police can pull people over.” And, according to the ACLU of Florida, “Racial disparities in traffic law enforcement are well-documented. Black and Hispanic drivers are far more likely to be pulled over than white drivers for the same behaviors and offenses, and once stopped, people of color are more likely to be subjected to a police search,” as reported by The Miami Herald.
Were You Issued a Texting While Driving Citation?
If you were ticketed for texting while driving, there are a few defenses options that may pertain to you. For one, law enforcement must have seen you violate another moving traffic law. If they did not, and issued you a ticket for texting alone, the charge will not stand. Moreover, it is very difficult to prove that a driver was texting, because it is essentially the officer’s word against yours. They likely have no real evidence that you were texting, and not just dialing a number, checking the time, or using your phone in another legal manner. Call a West Palm Beach traffic citation defense lawyer at the Skier Law Firm today for assistance.