A bill that would raise texting and driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense was recently passed by the Florida House and is now awaiting the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill also makes it illegal for motorists to use a cellphone in school or construction zones. However, using GPS is still lawful, unless the motorist is in a school or construction zone. This measure would allow Florida to catch up with other states in the nation on this issue, as it is one of only four states in which texting and driving is a secondary offense.
Currently, texting and driving is a secondary offense, meaning that the police must have a reason other than observing a motorist texting for making the traffic stop. Under this bill, if an officer observes a motorist texting and driving, that alone can provide them with the authority to pull the motorist over. Under the bill, the first time a motorist is ticketed for texting and driving, they will be fined $30. A second or subsequent violation will lead to a $60 fine. In addition, the bill provides a grace period: until January, officers are only permitted to issue a warning for texting and driving.
While it is good to penalize those who text while driving, the fact of the matter is that distracted drivers cause car accidents each day. Many victims of these auto accidents suffer serious injuries. They can incur significant medical expenses, may be unable to work and may experience great pain and suffering, not to mention emotional trauma. Thus, a nominal citation may not be enough to make these victims feel that justice has been done.
Fortunately, many times the victim of a car crash caused by a distracted driver may be able to pursue compensation from the negligent driver through a personal injury filing. A civil lawsuit could be a means for obtaining the financial compensation needed to recover from the many damages a victim may suffer. Sometimes, a settlement can be reached out of court, while other times a case needs to go through the entire trial process. In either case, a personal injury claim could help make victims whole again.