Driving while ‘intexticated’
New Florida law Oct. 1 will affect the traveling texter’s wallet
Effective Oct. 1, Florida drivers who have a hard time keeping their hands off their phone may end up paying a hard fi ne and potentially doing jail time.
Gov. Rick Scott signed off in May on the new Texting and Driving Law, which is intended to improve roadway safety and prevent crashes. But the new ban does not give police the right to stop a driver purely for suspected texting.
Texting while driving is considered a secondary offense, which can warrant an additional fine to a ticket given for a separate traffic violation. If a driver is otherwise in compliance with traffic laws, an officer has no grounds for ticketing them with a texting citation.
According to the House of Representative’s final bill analysis, the act is considered a non criminal, nonmoving traffic violation. The violation is accompanied by a $30 fine, plus the additional court costs, which vary by county.
Cell phone records and personal testimonies from those receiving text messages may be used to prove guilt in court if a crash results. Repeat citations could call for exponential penalties.
Junior criminal justice major Raphael Oladejo is not concerned about the new law if enforcement doesn’t become counterproductive. “As long as they (police) aren’t overdoing it and going around actually looking for it, it doesn’t really matter to me.”
Exceptions to the newly signed law do exist. For example, a driver can still text while the vehicle is stationary, when reporting an emergency, criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement, when using a device or system for navigation purposes, and when receiving safety related information, among other exceptions.
Senior Shoshanna Bordes has experienced the negative effects of texting and driving. Bordes said that if it weren’t for the additional distraction of her phone, an accident that she was involved in could have been avoided.
“Personally, I think (the ban) is a good idea because I know if I text and drive, I know my mind isn’t completely focused on what’s happening on the road,” Bordes said.
FGCU Police Chief Steven Moore explained that just like all other Florida laws, texting and driving will be equally enforced on campus grounds.
“It will, however, start out as a secondary offense, meaning that you would have to get pulled over for something else in order to receive a ticket for texting and driving,” Moore said.
He compared it to the seatbelt law that also started out as a secondary offense, and is still enforced on campus.
According to a study done by the National Safety Council, 1.6 million accidents each year are caused by texting and driving.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting and driving impairs the brain just as much as driving after drinking four beers.
Additionally, texting and driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated. Junior Josh Ryland feels that the new Florida law will not change his daily transit too much.
“I don’t text and drive unless I’m at a red light, regardless of what the law is,” he said.“ Before they even came out with the campaign slogan, I’ve always thought that ‘it really can wait.’”
Photo courtesy of Comedy Driving Traffic School Blog