It's been beaten up, watered down and almost died a slow painful death, but it looks like the bill that will ban texting and driving in Florida is going to become a law as soon as Gov. Rick Scott signs it.
Just days ago, it seemed as if Sen. Nancy Detert's bill (SB 52) was going to go burst into a plume of dust after the House watered it down and tagged an amendment to it that makes it virtually meaningless. But, just before the session came to a close, the Senate passed it on a 39-1 vote.
Earlier reports said that certain members of the House purposely sabotaged the bill in order for it to die, because they didn't like that Sen. Detert opposed and voted against a separate bill -- the so-called "parent trigger" bill that would have given parents a voice in turning troubled and failing schools around -- and had hoped that it was watered down enough to not even make it past the Senate before Friday's deadline.
The bill, as is, remains watered down. A first-offense penalty carries a $30 fine, and while it bans texting and driving, it only does so while driving. A person can text when their vehicle is stopped (like at a red light), and it's filed under a "secondary offense," which means a driver would have to have broken a different road rule in order for a cop to pull them over and tag them with a texting ticket.
Under the amended bill, will keep cops from getting a driver's cell phone records to see if an accident was caused by texting, except in the case of an accident that caused and injury or death.
As this has always been a sticky issue, how exactly would "texting while driving" be proven by cops?
Detert eventually accepted these watered down provisions so that the bill wouldn't head back to the House and die.
Now it heads to Scott's desk. A spokesperson for the governor said he'd review it. Scott has not spoken publicly about what he thinks of the bill.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.