New bill would ban Florida drivers from texting, talking on hand-held cellphones

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Another bill has been filed for the 2019 legislative session that would allow law-enforcement officers to pull over motorists for texting or talking on hand-held cell phones while driving.

Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, filed a measure (HB 107) on Monday that would prohibit drivers from talking on cell phones that are not hands-free devices and would make enforcement a “primary” offense.



Currently, texting while driving in Florida is prohibited, but it is enforced as a “secondary” offense. That means motorists can only be cited if they are stopped for other infractions, such as running stop signs or speeding.

Under Toledo’s bill, police would be able to stop motorists for texting or talking on hand-held cell phones.



“Distracted driving can have deadly consequences, and it’s time we finally address this public safety crisis,” Toledo said in a news release.

Toledo was a co-sponsor of a similar House measure during the 2018 session, but the proposal did not advance in the Senate amid concerns about issues such as minority drivers facing increased racial profiling. A Senate bill (SB 76) similar to Toledo’s new proposal has been filed by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, for the 2019 session, which starts in March.

Under the Toledo and Simpson bills, drivers would be able to communicate on hands-free devices. Also, motorists would be allowed to use hand-held devices for such purposes as reporting emergencies, getting safety-related information or for navigation.

Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, also has filed a similar measure (HB 45) for the 2019 session.

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