Tampa Republican Representative Jackie Toledo has submitted a bill to the senate floor in an attempt to prohibit texting and driving. The Florida Police Chiefs Association have officially endorsed Toledo’s bill.
The Florida Police Chiefs Association officially endorsed Representative Jackie Toledo’s bill that would allow law enforcement to pull over Florida drivers for texting and talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.
The Tampa Republican’s bill, HB 107, would make cell phone usage while driving a primary offense if the driver uses their hands to utilize the device in front of law enforcement.
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association supports any legislation that discourages distracted driving, including texting while driving,” the FPCA said in a statement distributed to state lawmakers.
Under the current law drivers can only be cited for texting while driving if they are stopped for another reason like speeding, running a red light or driving with a stoplight out.
Law enforcement have also run into the issue that a driver can state they weren’t texting and without a warrant they cannot take their phone to see if they were telling the truth or not.
This isn’t the first time Toledo has introduced a similar bill. In the 2018 legislative session her proposed bill would have banned texting and driving. It passed the State House 112-2, but the Florida Senate did not approve the bill.
Opponents of the bill frequently state examples of drivers using their cell phones as GPS devices as a reason to forgo making it a primary offense.
She’s hopeful the second round will be a success as a similar bill is back on the floor for the 2019 session. State Senator Wilton Simpson followed Toledo’s footsteps and also introduced a bill to make texting and driving a primary offense. However, Simpson’s bill, HB 45, has been withdrawn.
“The FPCA and its members around the state feel strongly that the often-deadly effects of the distracted epidemic will only continue to grow and more lives will be lost unless our legislators implement laws to discourage this type of driving behavior,” the FPCA added in the news release.