Florida Texting and Driving Ban Goes Into Effect

Beginning at midnight Monday, South Florida drivers will have to stop texting behind the wheel or they'll face a fine.

However, the statewide ban does not allow officers to pull someone over for texting and driving. The violation is a secondary offense, which can be tacked on to someone stopped for speeding, driving without a seatbelt, or another infraction.

State representative Irv Slosberg says texting and driving is "an epidemic." He described the fight to get the ban on the books as "hand to hand combat."

The fine is $30 for a first offense, then $60 plus three points on your license for a second offense within five years.

Slosberg admitted "it's a weak law," but he sees it as a step in the right direction. His own daughter was killed in a car crash in 1996.

"There's not a lot of teeth in the law, however it's a bite of the apple," said Slosberg.

He said he plans to push to make the violation a primary offense.

The Virginia Tech Highway Institute reports a person is 23 times more likely to get into a crash if he or she is texting and driving.

GPS navigation and regular cell phone calls are still permitted. Texting is also permitted when a car is stopped.

Florida is joining 40 other states in the U.S. where it is illegal to text and drive.

The Sunshine State's ban is one of more than two dozen laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature that are scheduled to kick in on Tuesday.

Other new laws include a measure that bans welfare recipients from using electronic benefit transfer or EBT at "adult entertainment establishments" such as strip clubs and casinos; a requirement that citizens be given a right to speak at meetings of local government and state executive branch bodies; and a "paper reduction" law that increases the ability of citizens to get information electronically.

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