State lawmaker pass bill which could make texting and driving primary offense in Florida

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many are guilty of sending a text while they're driving. In fact, some say you can see people texting and driving just about everywhere you go in our area.

"It kills me when you're driving and you see people texting and driving all the time," said Tallahassee resident Jeremy hall.

"With the texting and driving it makes it so much worse and many accidents have happened here recently," said Panama City resident Will Mathis.

You may be more likely to get pulled over for texting and driving soon, however, as state lawmakers pass a bill that would make the act a primary offense in Florida.

Lt. Jon Morris with the Panama City Police Department said police currently need an alternative reason, such as running a red light, to pull you over first and then cite you if they believe you were texting and driving. If the bill is made a law, that would change.

"If a law enforcement officer, in the performance of his duties, observes that somebody is texting and driving. At that time, they can pull them over for that as the primary and then cite them accordingly, " said Lt. Morris.

Lt. Morris said they must have your permission before they check your phone, but they can also issue a search warrant to check if you're texting. He said they'll typically use search warrants when it comes to crashes that cause serious injuries. He also said there are also exceptions to the rule.

"If people on Facebook or short typing, i-messaging and stuff like that, that's gonna be the issues that I saw in reading it. However, if the individuals are calling 911, typing in a phone number or using the navigation in their phone that's gonna be the exception," said Lt. Morris.

Lt. Morris said the penalty for the first offense would be $30 plus court costs. The second offense would be $60 dollars plus court costs and three points added to your license.

"Now if they see you they could basically go ahead and nip that in the bud so quick. Which is great, I got kids and I wouldn't want nothing to happen to mine," said Hall.

Governor Ron DeSantis has not yet signed the bill. If he does, the law will go into effect October 1 and will be enforced starting next year.

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