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Florida's texting and driving bill heads to governor's desk to become law

Gov. DeSantis to get final say on distracted driving bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House voted overwhelmingly Monday to send a bill to make texting and driving a primary traffic offense to the governor's desk, marking the furthest legislation of its kind has gone in the Sunshine State.

News 6 has advocated for three years for stricter texting and driving laws to make Florida roads safer.

Monday's 108-7 vote on the amended House Bill 107 was the final hurdle to send the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

[RELATED: News 6 Driving Change timelineNews 6 anchor Matt Austin testifies for distracted driving billCould 2019 be the year Florida passes tougher distracted driving laws?]

Rep. Jackie Toledo and Rep. Emily Slosberg co-sponsored the legislation and were both beaming as the vote tally was read.

The bill makes texting and driving a primary offense, which means officers can pull you over if they catch you typing on your phone while the car is moving. It also makes it illegal to hold or use your phone in construction or school zones.

Under current law, officers can only cite drivers for texting if they are pulled over for some other violation. The House-passed bill would allow officers to stop motorists simply for texting alone.

A first offense is punishable by a $30 fine, with a second offense costing $60. Court costs and fees also would apply. Only warnings will be given until January, when officers can write citations.

Florida is one of only a handful of states where law enforcement officers cannot pull drivers over solely for texting and driving.

The bill was amended last week to make school and construction zones hands-free, making it illegal to hold a cellphone in such zones. The second amendment was to define a construction zone.

Last week, DeSantis told reporters that, while he didn’t know all the details of the House and Senate proposals, he supports efforts to make texting while driving a “primary” traffic offense.

“This stuff has got to be enforceable,” DeSantis said. “If it’s a primary offense, then people are going to get pulled over. So, you’ve got to make sure that is going to happen. The more you go beyond texting, I just have concerns about the administrability of it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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