A new law proposed in the Florida House of Representatives, HB 33, would allow the police to pull over and issue tickets solely for texting while driving. Under existing Florida law, texting while driving is not a primary offense, meaning that officers must have some other grounds to pull someone over, such as speeding or driving under the influence. A warrant would be required to search the driver’s phone as a way to safeguard against encroaching on privacy rights. The bill has been endorsed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
The problem with the current law is that it has resulted in few citations, and in fact, distracted driving incidents in Florida are on the rise. In 2015, there were approximately 45,000 accidents caused by distracted drivers, many of them texting while driving. This has resulted in a growing number of civil lawsuits against distracted drivers and their employers if they were driving for work purposes.
Recently, a Flagler County, Florida jury awarded over $4 Million to a 26-year-old auto accident victim who suffered a serious brain injury and coma after her car was struck by a tractor-trailer. The driver of the car that the victim was riding in ran a stop sign because he was texting while driving.
Although the Florida civil legal system offers a means of compensation for victims of distracted drivers, it is not enough to prevent texting while driving accidents. By removing the requirement that law enforcement officers may only issue citations for texting while driving if they were committing a primary offense, the new law would increase the number of citations for texting and act as a more effective deterrent.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of distracted driving, or for more information on Ahava Law Group and your potential personal injury case, please call us at (727) 362-1234 in St. Petersburg or Clearwater; (813) 626-1234 in Brandon or Tampa; (954) 637-1777 in Ft. Lauderdale or Pompano Beach; or email Info@AhavaLawGroup.com.