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SB 90 & HB 33 - Texting while driving may become primary offense

Staff Reports

According to the National Safety Council, more than 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting, causing life-changing injuries and deaths.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development and the House Judiciary Committee passed SB 90 and HB 33, moving them one step closer to the floor for a full vote.
According to a press release from the Florida Association of Counties, the bills amend the current Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law to change the enforcement from a secondary to primary offense. This change will allow a law enforcement officer to detain a motor vehicle operator solely for texting while driving.

Both chambers have added language requiring a law enforcement officer who detains someone for a texting while driving violation to inform the motor vehicle operator of his or her right to decline a search of the persons wireless communications device.

The bill prohibits a law enforcement officer from:           

1) Accessing the wireless communications device without a warrant,

2) Confiscating the wireless communications device while awaiting issuance of a warrant to access such device, and

3) Obtaining consent from the motor vehicle operator to search his or her wireless communication device through coercion or other improper method. Consent to search a motor vehicle operator’s wireless communication device must be voluntary and unequivocal.

The Senate added requirements for law enforcement officers is to record a person’s race and ethnicity if the officer issues a citation for the texting while driving violation. Law enforcement agencies must report such information to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Department must report statewide totals annually starting in 2019.
Both bills have one more committee stop.