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Monday, September 30, 2013

New Florida texting ban goes into effect Tuesday

Florida to become 41st state to ban texting while driving


September 29, 2013

 Texting and driving

After years of pushing, a new texting and driving ban will go into effect early next week. The law is aimed at keeping drivers safe.

 On Tuesday, Florida becomes the 41st state to ban texting while driving, but the state's version is one of the weakest in the nation.

"I hope we can do better and as time goes on, we will," said Ron Richardson, a driving instructor.

Police can't stop anyone just for texting, as they have to also have committed another crime.

A first offense will cost $30, and unless there is a fatal accident or injury, police can't search one's phone records.

Still, after five years of trying, sponsor Doug Holder is happy to finally have something on the books.

"It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been a good effort on everyone's part for everyone on the team," said Holder.

Lawmakers also refused to fund an anti-texting campaign, but the Florida Highway Patrol is using existing resources to get the word out.

"We're going to be out there. It's just another statute we're going to be looking for," said Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, of the Florida Highway Patrol. "So if we see somebody texting and driving, we will pull them over and stop that behavior."

Richardson said regardless of the law's weaknesses, it will be a great teaching lesson for students.

"It gives me extra information, be able to let them know distracted driving, which this is really about. They need to understand they need to be completely focused 100 percent of the time when they're behind the wheel," said Richardson.

A second offense will cost motorists $60. Getting in a crash will add six points to your license.