Texting and Driving in Florida: Ban Waiting to be Signed into Law



Published on May 16, 2013 - Channel 13 News - Orlando

In Depth: Mark NeJame, criminal defense attorney and legal analyst talks to Kelli Cook, Channel 13 News about a texting and driving ban was approved in Florida and is waiting to be signed into law.


Florida Texting and Driving

A texting and driving ban was approved by lawmakers here in Florida and is now sitting on Governor Rick Scott’s desk awaiting its signature. As some say even if it gets signed into law it is not hash enough to make a real difference. Channel 13 legal analyst Mark NeJame comments on the subject.

This would be driving under a secondary affect, explain to us what does that mean?

It means that if an officer sees you texting and driving and you’re not committing any other offense then the officer cannot ticket you. So, very simple you have to have been speeding or have been involved in an accident and they can show that the texting actually was coupled with the other offense can they then give you a secondary ticket and then it is still rather weak. I think the first offence is thirty dollars.

Right, which is another point. Do you think that it is harsh enough to keep people from actually stop texting while they’re driving?

I think it’s completely toothless, there is really no force behind this is no teeth behind this. If you use as an example Louisiana, I believe they’ve had this in to a fact since 2008 and they’re averaging eighteen tickets a year and so it’s almost impossible to enforce. It’s more for show it’s more for the politician saying we got something done when they in fact got nothing done. It does send out a message though. That there’s at least a law on the books and that it sends out an understanding that people shouldn’t be doing this. But as far as having any real force and affect, no.

Speaking of which, this is a secondary offense. How hard for officers will it be to actually enforce this law?

Almost impossible. The fact is that how do you know if somebody is not hitting and button to answer a call? How do they know that they’re not simply you know, sending something or simply looking at something and that’s not texting. so even if you’re seeing somebody use the phone you have to prove that what they were doing was texting and then you have to be able to have it coupled with the primary offense and then you can only get the driver on record whether they were texting or not if there’s an accident involved. So, there are no teeth involved. This is simply for show; it’s dressing, a window dressing. There’s nothing in there and we’re not too sure the governor’s going to sign.

What do you think this is going to be good for the Governor Rick Scott to put his John Hancock?

There’s no teeth in it. He’s got his advisors are going to be whispering in his ear you know there’s nothing to this but if they want to have it out there for show and they’ve got it if he’s going to send it back and say I want something tougher then we may get that. The governor’s wife is involved in an accident not long ago where somebody was in fact texting. So that might have something to do with his decision about whether to veto it or not. But, everybody knows there’s really no teeth to this its so that the public at least has a message that texting and driving is against the law in Florida. But, there is really nothing serious that’s going to attach to it. Only a very very few hand full of cases will come through the courts.