As the debate continues over a bill to ban texting while driving, two lawmakers said today they are filing legislation to impose tougher penalties on motorists who cause fatal accidents while texting in their vehicles. Democrat Darren Soto filed SB 708 Thursday and said in a press release that fellow Democrat Rep. Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton would file a similar measure in the House. The bill would allow prosecutors to charge drivers with vehicular homicide if they kill someone while texting behind the wheel.
“I was troubled by the fact that some folks merely got probation or a ticket. Certainly, we need more consistency and harsher punishments than that, Soto said.
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Sen. Soto said his research showed drivers get charged with a wide variety of offenses for killing someone while texting and driving. Under the proposed bill, a person convicted would face 15 years in prison. The bill would not apply to drivers using their phones to contact emergency services.
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is trying for the fourth year in a row to pass a bill banning texting while driving. Her SB 52 would allow exceptions for drivers who are completely stopped, texting hands free, using navigational services or contacting emergency personnel. Her bill passed its first committee Wednesday and has two more to go against. Florida is one of eleven states without any restrictions on texting while driving.