Monday, December 26, 2011

Texting While Driving Ban Targeted by Florida Legislators

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses the potential ban on Texting While Driving (TWD) in Florida.

Issue:

Although Florida is one of the 15 states that has not yet banned texting while driving, the state Senate Transportation Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 416 last week that would ban drivers from texting, e-mailing and instant messaging while driving.

SB 416 proposes to make texting while driving a noncriminal traffic violation, and texting while driving could only be charged as a secondary offense to any other criminal traffic offense.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also recommended that all states ban drivers from using all portable electronic devices, including any electronics used for texting, internet browsing, instant messaging and talking.  The NTSB recently stated to CNN that any form of distracted driving, including texting while driving is “the new DUI.”



Why This Matters To You:

Even though SB 416 does not make texting while driving a criminal offense by itself, anyone charged with any other criminal traffic offense, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving with a suspended license, or vehicular homicide, could also be charged with the secondary violation of texting while driving.  Additionally, anyone caught texting while driving could face potential classification as a habitual traffic offender in St. Petersburg.

If the proposed texting while driving legislation is passed, Florida law enforcement officers will make greater efforts to charge drivers with texting while driving in additional to any other criminal traffic offenses.  Although drivers who are caught texting while driving can already be charged with reckless driving, this new legislation would drastically increase traffic charges throughout Florida.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported in a survey that 69% of drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving and 24% admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving.


What To Do Next:

If you have been charged with reckless driving, DUI, hit or run or any other traffic offense in Tampa, contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss you case directly with an attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation.  The Morris Law Firm can help. Attorney Melinda Morris has specific knowledge and experience in representing alleged traffic offenders throughout Pinellas County the entire Tampa Bay, FL area (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Largo, Dunedin and Bradenton).