NewsLocal News


Despite new laws, local dad says texting and driving ban isn't enough

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 17:29:17-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) — Starting today there's a new way to get pulled over by the cops, and it involves your phone.

Police in Florida started issuing citations for people texting and driving on Jan.1.

Demetrius Branca spent countless hours over the years right inside the capitol trying to get a hands free law for Florida.

He says this new bill isn't enough to keep people safe.

"He was on his way from work to school and a distracted driver ran him over and killed," said Branca.

Ever since Demetrius Branca lost his son back in November of 2014 he's fought to make sure there are stricter laws to crack down on distracted driving.

"Drivers are acting in very unsafe ways and that needs to be policed and cleaned up," said Branca.

Branca started a non-profit in his son's memory, now teaches the dangers of distracted driving, and works with legislators to do more.

But the latest bill to go into effect isn't enough.

"It's a nice little tiny baby step in the right direction but it's not where we need to go. Honestly I'm just not that excited about it."

Florida law enforcement will start ticketing anyone behind the wheel in a school or work zone with their phone in their hands starting the first of the year.

"If you get pulled over, you can just say 'I was using my maps' and you get let off the hook."

A first offense is a non-moving violation starting at $30.

The second, doubling in fines and costing you points on your license.

"That's less than parking tickets."

Branca says he plans to go back to lawmakers and continue to tell them that a hands free law or a complete ban is what will create actual change.

"As long as there's air in my lungs and a beat in my heart, I'm going to keep fighting. There's other people out there who's families are going to suffer needlessly."

There were more than 52,000 crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018.

800 of them happened right here in Leon County.