Texting and driving legislation moves through Florida Senate

Posted at 4:39 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 13:00:14-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Race and ethnicity would have to be recorded by law-enforcement officers when ticketing drivers for texting while driving, under a measure that continued moving through the state Senate Tuesday.

The requirement about recording race and ethnicity was added to the bill, which would strengthen Florida's ban on texting while driving to make it a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense.

Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning drivers can only be cited if they are pulled over for other reasons. But if it is made a primary offense, police would be able to stop drivers for texting behind the wheel.

"The message we are sending out by having it as a secondary offense, to the driving public, is 'Look, don't do something else. As long as you aren't doing something else, texting and driving is okay,'" said Sen. Keith Perry, R- Gainesville.

The proposal, which has now cleared three Senate panels, must get approved by one more committee before it can go to the full Senate.

The House version, which does not have a similar race and ethnicity reporting requirement, has been approved by one committee so far.