Florida House votes to outlaw texting while driving

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Associated Press, Ashley Harding - Reporter

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida would fully ban texting while driving under a bill passed by the Florida House.

The House voted 112-2 Thursday for the legislation even though it's unclear if the measure will make it to Gov. Rick Scott due to opposition in the Senate.

Currently, Florida law says texting by noncommercial drivers is a secondary offense. That means officers must see another violation, such as speeding, before they cite a driver for texting. The bill (HB 33) would make texting while driving a primary offense.

Texting while driving is a primary offense in 43 states.

A top Senate Republican has blocked the bill in that chamber. Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said he's concerned about giving extra power to the police and about privacy rights because they may have to inspect cellphones to prove someone was texting.

Earlier this week, Bradley, who's chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke with WKMG-TV anchor Matt Austin.

Just over a year ago, Austin was injured in a crash involving a distracted driver. Since then, he's testified before the Florida Legislature and has been working to bring changes to laws about texting while driving. 

Bradley apologized to Austin for what he's gone through, but explained why he's against the way the bill is written, calling it unnecessary government intrusion. 

"If you try to tell the officer, 'No, I wasn't (distracted),' you're in a spot where you may have to give your phone to the officer, and show them what you've been doing," Bradley said. "I think that's an unnecessary intrusion."

The Appropriations Committee is the final stop before that bill could go to the Senate floor.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.