May 29th, 2013 - by DKRPA
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into a law a bill that will make it illegal to send text messages while driving in Florida.
As attorneys who often represent clients who are badly injured in car accidents as the result of other motorists’ inattentiveness, we think this law could definitely be a step in the right direction.
The reason we say “could,” however, is that some people have said the new law is not strong enough and contains too many loopholes.
In essence, the law makes it illegal for drivers to use cellphones to send text messages or emails in most circumstances while they are operating a motor vehicle.
The first thing critics note is that drivers are not prohibited from using cellphones as navigation devices or for listening to music. Both of those things, of course, contribute to distracted driving.
Second, law enforcement officers cannot pull a motorist over just because they think he or she has been texting or emailing. If the driver has committed another offense, like running a red light, the law kicks in — but how? Obviously, it is quite easy for someone to hide the fact that he or she has been texting or emailing.
Lastly, a first-time offense carries with it a fine of just $30. Such a small amount of money is not a very big deterrent.
Even with all the potential drawbacks, it seems clear to us that this law has the potential to be the start of something that could increase the safety of all Florida drivers.
Source: The Miami Herald, “Rick Scott signs texting-while-driving ban, but does it have teeth?” Rochelle Koff, May 28, 2013