Florida texting law begins Oct. 1

Nancy Detert is a Republican senator from Florida

Florida finally has a texting and driving ban. The state's governor signed the successful 2013 distracted driving legislation into law. It takes effect Oct. 1. "This is going to save lives. This is going to make sure our teenagers are safe while driving -- that they're not distracted while driving," Gov. Rick Scott said at a May 28 ceremony in Tallahassee. Florida was one of the few remaining states without any distracted driving laws. It becomes the 41st state to ban text messaging while driving, following Hawaii. The legislation came after years of resistance in the Florida … [Read more...]

Hawaii bans distracted driving

Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii

Distracted driving has been illegal throughout Hawaii for several years, thanks to bans on each of the islands. Now the state has outlawed text messaging and the use of handheld cell phones while driving, in a move that's partly symbolic and mostly practical. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Act 74 on May 20, saying the new Hawaii law "establishes consistency across the state ... simplifying enforcement and likewise making our highways and roadways safer." Hawaii becomes the 40th state to ban text messaging while driving, and the 11th to outlaw handheld cell phone use while behind the wheel. … [Read more...]

Fla. governor gets texting bill

rick-scott-florida

In a first for Florida, a distracted driving bill has emerged from the Legislature. The state Senate gave final approval Thursday to a plan that would outlaw text messaging while driving in Florida. (Update: The bill signing is set for May 28. The law will go into effect Oct. 1.) The bill, however, calls for secondary enforcement, preventing police from issuing tickets unless another offense is observed, such as weaving or missing a stop sign. It does not address cell phones. Interviewed Monday, Gov. Rick Scott dodged the direct question of whether he would sign the texting … [Read more...]

Court: Hands off smartphone GPS

Use of smartphones as GPS devices long has been a gray area in distracted driving laws, but a California appellate court ruling indicates it's time to put away those map apps. The "plain language" of California's cell phone statute and its legislative history indicate any use of a wireless communications device by drivers that is not hands-free is against the law, the Appellate Division of Fresno Superior Court has ruled. The original conviction of Steven Spriggs was for driving while using a wireless phone (without a hands-free attachment). Spriggs admitted to driving while viewing his … [Read more...]

N.J., Maryland lawmakers crack down

Legislators in New Jersey and Maryland have moved to significantly toughen their state's electronic distracted driving laws. In New Jersey, what appears to be "the toughest hands-free cell phone law in the nation" is closer to enactment as the Legislature sent a distracted driving measure to Gov. Chris Christie. In Maine, a bill that gives primary enforcement status to the current wireless communications law has advanced from the House to the Senate. The bill also hikes fines for texting & talking on handheld cell phones while driving to as much as $500. First-time distracted driving … [Read more...]