South Florida Traffic Safety: Jail Time Proposed for Distracted Drivers

As it stands now, drivers are free to travel along our roadways talking on phones, composing text messages, checking emails and even surfing the internet. According to WLRN, there have been a number of bills fail to get anywhere when it comes to making texting while driving illegal in the state of Florida.

There’s a new bill that doesn’t exactly stop drivers from texting but it does up the consequences of doing so — if you’re involved in an accident. The new bill could charge drivers with vehicular homicide if they’re involved in one of these accident. Drivers whose texting leads to a fatal accident could be charged and sentenced as a homicide. The bill will be filed this week in the Senate and is expected to be taken up in the House. This vehicular homicide charge would constitute a second-degree felony, meaning a driver can be sentenced up to 15 years behind bars. The bill was filed by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando. Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton is expected to fill a companion measure in the House.

Our Broward car accident lawyers understand that these are just a couple of bills among a handful that are targeting the use of wireless communications by drivers. Unfortunately, Florida is one of the only states left that has yet to adopt any kind of restrictions against driving and text messaging.

The bill is supported by the Senate Transportation Committee, but that doesn’t mean it will pass. Even if it does, it wouldn’t change the fact that Florida is one of only eleven states that has yet to stop drivers from texting. There are other bills that are looking to change that though. Many of them will be considered during the 2013 session, which kicks off in March. So far, three have already been introduced.

“Certainly, we need more consistency and harsher punishments than that…so we want to make sure that the punishment fits the crime,” said Senator Soto.

According to research from Soto, drivers aren’t facing adequate penalties for this dangerous behavior. Some are getting a traffic ticket and probation and some are only being charged with vehicular homicide. Nothing acts as a better deterrent than a strict consequence.

The truth of the matter is that about a third of all drivers admit to text messaging behind the wheel at least once. Close to 20 percent say that they do it on a regular basis, according to a HealthDay poll.

Driver who are text messaging behind the wheel are about 25 times more likely to get into an accident. It may not be a law here in Florida — to keep the text messaging devices out of the driver’s seat — but we’re asking you to practice common sense and to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your attention on driving.