Lawmakers look into strengthening texting and driving law


LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Back to the drawing board. One year after Florida passed its first texting and driving law, lawmakers say it’s not harsh enough.

“We want to attack, it really doesn’t have its bite, because it’s a secondary offense,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeffery Dektas.

In 2013, texting and driving became a secondary offense in Florida. That means, law enforcement cannot pull you over, unless you break another traffic rule first. Florida State Senator Maria Sachs tells WINK News the way it is now, the law is not effective.

“Law enforcement officers must have the authority to stop people who are texting and driving.”

“We are looking for that primary offense, saying that someone’s texting and driving, they need to get pulled over and cited,” Dektas told WINK News.

Take a look at the dash cam video captured by a Fort Myers police officer last year. Police say the driver admitted to texting and driving.

“This time they were under the influence of a cell phone, so very scary when you watch the video,” said Fort Myers Police Department Lt. Victor Medico.

Already this year, state law makers have filed three bills to strengthen the law. Sachs tells WINK News, all of the bills would allow law enforcement to pull you over immediately if caught texting and driving. The fine would double if you are caught texting in a school zone or near a cross walk.

“We notice a lot of weaving, people slowing down, they are driving with their knees for crying out loud, so they can text,” said Dektas.

WINK News checked, since 2013 when the law took effect, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has given 42 citations, Fort Myers Police Department handed out 35, and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office just 7.

“If it was a primary offense it would sky rocket,” said Medico. “At night it’s pretty obvious when your face is glowing from your phone,” said Dektas.

Sachs tells WINK News she will be working to get this on a committee next week in Tallahassee.

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