In Depth: How would Florida Enforce a Texting & Driving Ban?

 

Texting and Driving banned by Florida Law

 

By Kristin Kane | Anchor/Reporter
Posted April 18, 2013

ORLANDO -- Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us have done it: Texting while driving.

We all know texting while on the road can be very dangerous, and potentially deadly, which is why many states have put laws on the books banning texting and driving.

Now, the Florida Senate has unanimously passed a ban on texting and driving, and Gov. Rick Scott said if the bill passes in the House, he'll sign it.

I sat down with our legal analyst, Mark NeJame, to go IN DEPTH on the topic.

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KRISTIN KANE: Several states have banned texting and driving, but not Florida. Why do you think that such laws have not been passed here?

MARK NEJAME: It's politics. The fact is you have lobbying groups and efforts, but I think it's going to be happening, and relatively soon. We know that, statistically, texting and driving is very dangerous. Some stats argue it's more dangerous than drinking and driving. We know that eventually, there's going to be something that comes down the pike, and it's going to be something, and there's going to be some type of legislation. The challenge will be enforcing it. How do you enforce and define what texting comprises and how to enforce it?

KK: How would you know if someone was texting, dialing a number, checking their GPS, playing their music, etc.?

NEJAME: There is the trouble. How are you going to identify what texting is and what illegal activity is? Texting presumes that you're writing back and forth, but what if you need to hit a button to open up your security gate or use your GPS? Those are applications that you need to use for a single button, but an officer looking at a car may think that you're texting away. So, how do you prove it? It's going to be very hard to enforce.

KK: Even if legislation is passed here in the Sunshine State, how easy would it actually be to catch drivers who were texting? We know law enforcement officers have radar guns to track speeders, but how exactly would they be able to prove that a driver was texting? Can officers check a driver's phone records?

NEJAME: You have Fourth Amendment issues. You have to be very careful of that. You'd be simply relying on an officer's observation, but then the next step -- which some suggest would be going in, seizing a phone and getting personal records -- would not be permissible. We have to make sure that if we have laws, that we don't cross over and violate people's rights and information simply because of suspicion. So, we have to be very, very careful of that.

You cannot just go through an American's property, and you really don't know, an officer doesn't know. We do have an issue with texting and driving, and I think it's a well stated issue that we need to get to, and that is: How do we stop people and ban texting and driving? But on the other hand, we need to not go down that slippery slope and begin violating people's rights, and being insensitive to privacy rights and not crossing the line.