Ban on texting while driving in Florida coasts through another committee

Republican Sen. Nancy Detert's proposal to make texting while driving punishable as a secondary offense eased past a second committee Thursday morning by a vote of 12-1.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, stood out as the first senator to vote against SB 416.

"I think it's unnecessary," he said after the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee meeting. He pulled out a printed copy of the careless driving statute from a manilla folder, saying it addressed motorists who drift.

Enforceability would also be tough for law enforcement. What if, Negron said, someone was reading a calendar on his or her Blackberry -- is that illegal too?

Still, several groups support Detert's approach, including the Florida Sheriffs Association, because it might deter people from texting behind the wheel.

Detert's companion bill in the House, HB 299, has not been slated for discussion.

An amendment tacked on by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-MIami, would add two points to a motorist's driver's license if he or she texted within a school zone (still a secondary offense).

“Schools should be safe havens, and that includes the area where people drop off their children or where children walk to school,” he said.