If you have been charged with reckless driving, for texting or any other reason, contact experienced traffic attorney, William Falik. He can help.
Although thirty-five states and the District of Columbia already have bans on texting by all drivers operating motor vehicles, Florida is not one of them according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The Florida Legislature has been generally opposed to anti-texting bills on the basis that it would be an unnecessary government intrusion into people’s lives.
“There are already laws on the books that make it illegal to drive unsafely,” said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies for the libertarian Cato Institute. Florida has a “reckless driving” law which arguably covers texting while driving if done recklessly.
On the other hand, victims of car crashes caused by texting drivers see it differently. The federal government says a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash than one not texting, while AAA puts the figure at six times.
However, texting bans haven’t had an effect on the number of accidents in other states. A 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute said crashes didn’t decrease in states that banned texting by drivers, and in fact found that reported collisions went up slightly. One theory for the increase is that the bans actually make things worse by causing drivers, knowing it’s illegal, to move their phones down and out of sight when they text, thus taking their eyes further away from their driving.
Both sides of the anti-texting debate agree the real danger is “distracted driving.”
The Florida Driver’s Handbook lists “driving while calling, answering, talking or texting on a mobile phone” as bad habits that drivers should break. But the handbook also lists “driving when ill, upset or angry” and “driving while eating and drinking.”
Nonetheless, one in seven drivers have admitted to reading or sending a text message while driving. The figures are even higher for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.
Bills currently pending in the Florida legislature would make texting subject to secondary enforcement, meaning police could cite drivers for it only if they had been pulled over for another violation such as speeding. A first violation would be a $30 fine; a second violation within five years would be $60. Further, if texting resulted in a crash, the driver would be assessed six points — 12 points within a year leads to a 30-day driver’s license suspension. Points also lead to increased insurance rates.
A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who usually pushes for limited government and less regulation, says he hasn’t taken a position on a ban.