Florida's fight against texting and driving takes one step further tonight.
Senate Bill 144 passed its first hurdle today when it was approved by a transportation sub-committee.
The original version of the bill would have made texting and driving a primary violation for drivers age 18 or younger.
The big surprise: A last-minute amendment changed the age range to now include all drivers.
Senate Bill 144 and its House companion bill both have several more sub-committees to pass through before being put to a vote by the full legislature and becoming a law.
It's movement, small as it may be, in the fight against texting and driving in our state.
Late last week, State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, of Miami-Dade, filed a bill revising enforcement for texting while driving near schools.
Specifically, SB 1742 would make texting while driving in a school zone and at school crossings a primary offense, meaning law enforcement would not need to witness any other traffic violation to pull someone over.
Rodriguez’s legislation is a companion bill to one in the House introduced late last year by Reps. Richard Stark and Emily Slosberg. His bill now joins three others this session to create tougher texting and driving laws:
- HB 47 – Richard Stark/Emily Slosberg (Prime Co-Sponsor)/Daisy Baez, John Cortes, Ben Diamond, Nicholas Duran, Kionne McGhee, Carlos Guillermo Smith (Co-Introducers): increases penalties for texting and driving violations in school zones or school crossings. Removes secondary enforcement action by law enforcement agencies. Companion bill in Senate: SB 1742. Filed 11/23/2016.
- HB 69 – Emily Slosberg/Daisy Baez, John Cortes, Ben Diamond, Nicholas Duran, Kionne McGhee, Carlos Guillermo Smith (Co-Introducers): Moves to enact primary enforcement of Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law for drivers age 18 or younger. Companion bill in Senate: SB 144. Filed 12/2/2016.
The 2017 Florida legislative session starts tomorrow and runs for the next two months through May 5.