TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The possibility of Florida lawmakers passing a stronger texting and driving law moved one step closer to reality Tuesday morning when a Senate bill successfully passed through another subcommittee.
SB 90, Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving, filed last August by State Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), was passed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development by a vote of 8-2.
“All too often we hear of the tragic stories of families that have been affected by someone who was texting behind the wheel,” Perry said in an email to News 6. “I’m proud of our progress today and proud to sponsor this vital piece of legislation that will make texting and driving a primary offense in the State of Florida and join the many other states who have answered the call for safer roadways.”
The bill has made a successful run through two other committees: the Committee on Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities by a vote of 7-1 (10/24/17), and the Committee on Transportation by a vote of 5-0 (1/10/18).
Next, the legislation has just one more committee meeting to get through: a debate in the Committee on Appropriations. If SB 90 passes through that committee, it then goes to the full Legislature for debate and a merger with its House counterpart bill.
On the House side, that counterpart bill, known as HB 33, Texting while Driving, has its next subcommittee meeting this week.
“Today’s a big win for public safety,” State Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) said. “We’re looking forward to our committee meeting later this week and a healthy debate as we get closer to making texting and driving a primary offense in Florida.”
Slosberg, along with State Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) are co-sponsors of HB 33.
HB 33 is slated to be debated in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday at 9 a.m.. News 6 anchor Matt Austin has been asked to testify at the meeting to talk about his own personal experience when he was involved in a serious crash in 2016 with a motorist who was texting and driving.
Since Austin's crash, News 6 has been pushing for stronger distracted driving laws in Florida through its Driving Change intuitive.