Florida bill targets cell phone use, text messaging in vehicles

| 9/27/2007

While we are still months away from the calendar turning over to 2008, state legislators in Florida are busy putting together efforts for consideration once the regular session convenes in the spring.

One bill – S266 – prefiled in the state’s Senate would prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cell phones while driving.

Drivers would be prohibited from using the devices while behind the wheel. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” accessory would still be permitted.

Sponsored by Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, the bill would make it a secondary offense to drive while chatting – meaning a driver would have to be pulled over for another violation, such as speeding, before they could be ticketed for talking on the phone. It also would prohibit drivers from text messaging.

Emergency calls would be exempted.

Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the only statewide laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. In 2008, California and Washington are slated to implement their own rules.

Only Washington has included “texting” while driving in their ban.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor