Florida has one of the weakest protections against driver distraction in the nation. While a proposal to toughen our state’s anti-texting-and-driving law was passed by the state House and given Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing, the state Senate has reportedly pumped the brakes on the measure, with news outlets reporting Sent. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, allowing it to stall in his committee for well over a month.
For his part, Bradley has cited concerns about potential racial profiling and the scope of police authority to view drivers’ cell phones during a traffic stop.
As it now stands, F.S. 316.305 prohibits motorists from texting, typing or reading messages, emails and social media posts while engaged in active driving. However, there are a plethora of exceptions, including no restrictions on radio broadcasts, engaging GPS navigation services or wireless communication that doesn’t require reading or the manual entry of data. A fine for a violation is just $50, but even those are rare given that it’s only a secondary offense, as opposed to a primary one. That means police cannot legally stop a driver observed texting-and-driving if that is the sole violation noted. The officer must also observe some other violation, such as speeding, weaving or red light running. Continue reading