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Rick Scott Signs Texting-and-Driving Ban Into Law

Looks like Florida has finally joined in on the texting-and-driving-ban palooza after Gov. Rick Scott officially made it illegal to do so.

Scott signed the bill on Tuesday, making Florida the 40th state to enact some sort of text-while-driving ban.

Florida drivers will not be able to write or read texts, IM, or email while driving. But, drivers will be able to do those things when their vehicle is stopped, like at a red light, for example.

The law is a secondary offense, which means cops will have to pull a driver over for some other kind of moving violation, and then tag them with a texting-and-driving ticket, if they think that was the case.

In other words, Floridians can't be pulled over for just texting-and-driving on its own.

Also, cops will not be allowed to obtain a driver's cell phone records except in the case of an accident that caused and injury or death. In addition, any driver who decides to contest a texting-while-driving ticket could ask a judge to throw out the case due to lack of evidence.

Still, it's kind of a big deal on its own that the bill made it this far and has actually become a law.

Rep. Doug Holder has been trying to pass a texting bill since 2008.

At the beginning of the month, after the bill passed the Senate, it looked like it would never even make it to Scott's desk, after the House added amendments to it that loaded it up and threatened to not make it past the Senate a second time.

The amendment included police not being able to seize phone records.

But compromises seemed to have been struck, and the bill headed to Scott, who signed it at a special ceremony at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Miami

"I think people will comply with the law," Scott said. "I think people will do the right thing. I think now parents can talk to their students who drive and say 'look, it's against the law.' So I think it will be enforced. I think people will voluntarily do the right thing."

According to the National Safety Council, over 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting while driving. 180 accidents were blamed on texting while driving in Florida in 2011.

The big question now will be if the law, as is, will be enough.

A secondary offense isn't exactly a scary thing. But Florida's seat belt law began as a secondary offense, and is now a primary offense (as all those "click-it-or-ticket" commercials that keep popping up on the radio like to remind us). So, this can be seen as just the beginning.

Some exceptions to being caught texting and driving include the use of a GPS, texting to cops to report a crime, and voice-to-text phones.

The law goes into effect October 1, and a first offense carries a $30 fine.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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