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Florida lawmakers debate bill to make texting and driving a primary offense

A driver uses a phone while behind the wheel of a car on April 30, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Posted at 6:12 AM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 06:25:00-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- There’s a chance law enforcement will soon be able to pull you over if you are caught texting and driving.

Lawmakers in Florida are making moves on Wednesday to make that happen.

The State Senate will take up SB 76, which makes texting and driving a primary offense. A similar bill just passed in the state house on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the House passed a similar bill, HB 107, on a 104-9 vote. The bill was proposed by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, and Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton.

Slosberg has been advocating for change since her twin sister, Dori Slosberg, was killed by a drunk, speeding driver in 1996. Their father, former state representative Irv Slosberg, has also championed for safer driving laws and launched the Dori Saves Lives Foundation, a non-profit that helps educate the community on safer driving practices.

As the law stands right now, officers can only cite drivers for texting if they're pulled over for something else such as running a stop sign or other traffic violations.

However, the new bills being discussed this week would allow police to stop you simply for texting alone.

A first offense involves a $30 ticket. Second time offenders will have to pay $60.

The bill does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system such as a GPS, or to a driver whose vehicle is not moving.

Last year, the House approved a similar measure but it failed to move forward in the Senate.

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