South Florida House Democrat wants to toughen penalties for texting while driving – Florida Politics (blog)
Motorists driving on some of Florida’s expressways and turnpikes have probably seen the message shown on the same electronic scoreboards that give AMBER alerts over the past year that say, “No texting while driving – it’s the law.”
Except it’s really not, which is something that Weston Democratic state Representative Richard Stark wants to address with his newly proposed legislation. His bill (HB 47) would allow law enforcement officers to pull drivers over for distracted driving as a primary offense, not a secondary one, as is current Florida law.
“It’s nice for people to know that there’s a law, but the reality is that there’s no teeth in the law,” Representative Stark told FloridaPolitics on Thursday.
Since the advent of cellphones over the past two decades, Florida has notoriously been behind the curve in passing legislation to deal with this technology and how it affects public safety. When the Legislature passed its current law making it a secondary offense to read or send a text three years ago, it came only after 40 other states had previously done so.”Most of the people I speak to publicly recognize that this is an issue that needs to be taken care, but having public support for something and having legislative support for something are two different things,” Stark says about the possibilities of his proposal passing in the 2017 session.
The South Florida Democrat says that opposition comes from two places: There is a libertarian strained general opposition to having someone’s “freedom” to text in their car taken away from them, but there’s also been resistance from the Democratic Black Caucus, concerned that making texting while driving a primary offense could make it easier for law enforcement to pull drivers over without a valid reason.
“Distraction is a serious safety concern. Best estimates are that at least