Texting While Driving Bill In Jeopardy After Late Amendment Added

May 1, 2013

There are only five states in the nation without texting-while-driving bans. Florida could bring that number down to four. But Thomas-Andrew Gustafson reports, the bill passed through the house Wednesday, but a last-minute amendment could end up bringing about the bill’s demise in the Senate.

Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) and Rep. Doug Holder (R-Venice) are hoping fifth time may be the charm. It’s the fifth time they’ve introduced the texting-while-driving bill hoping to curb this… “You’re 23 times more likely to have an accident. It’s the same as drinking four beers very quickly and getting behind the wheel and it’s six times more likely to cause an accident then driving while you’re intoxicated,” said Holder.

This time it’s passed the house and on its way to the Senate for one last look-over before landing on the Governor’s desk. Holder is happy, but says it’s long overdue.

“I’ve talked to over 700 children in my area and every single time that I go into their class and I give them the opportunity to talk about a bill that they would try to pass, every single time, they brought up a ban on texting while driving,” said Holder.

The bill makes the act a secondary offense – so you can only get a ticket if you’re already pulled over for a first offense like speeding. But an amendment to the bill added just a day earlier is sending a bill in high hopes into bleak circumstance. The amendment bans the use of phone records to prove a person was texting while driving unless there’s an injury or death involved. Since the tickets would be so easy to counter – just say you weren’t texting and there’s no way to prove otherwise – the bill itself looks less attractive. Rep. Irv Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) hopes that doesn’t happen.

“I would hate to see all of our efforts and all of our hard work and all of our coming together as a legislature to have time run out on this bill because an amendment was put on,” said Slosberg.

Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) already noted the amendment wouldn’t do the bill under in the Senate. But if the Senate decided to take the amendment out, the bill would have to go back to the House again for approval. This is the back-and-forth scenario many fear for the bill. Earlier in the week political junkies, reporters, and legislators alike all believed in a possible early end to Session. Now just two days from Session’s end and with stalling tactics between the two parties underway, there’s the chance bills like Holder’s may not make it out of the Capitol.