Texting while driving law will be enforced starting in October

(FISUM File Photo)

Raul Herrera/Staff Writer

The controversy over the practice of texting while driving has not disappeared; even after a Florida law was passed.

On Oct. 1, Florida’s ban on typing in a wireless device while driving, also known as Senate Bill 52, will go into effect. Refusing to comply with the law is considered as a secondary offense, which, according to Tampa Bay’s The Current, means that it can only be applied if the police for another reason have stopped an individual.

According to the Florida Senate website, the first violation of the law is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a $30 fine, plus additional county court costs. The Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts site refers to nonmoving violations as having a $129 fee.

The second violation of the law is punishable as a moving violation, with a $60 fine plus additional court costs.

The nature of the law, as well as its method of punishment, is a source of debate amongst students.

“Texting and driving is not something that you should do,” said Carlos Gutierrez De Pineres, a junior mechanical engineering student.

Despite this, De Pineres says that the law will not be as effective.

“[There are] DUIs for people that drink and drive, and people still drink,” said De Pineres.

He later clarified that it would reduce amounts of texting while driving, but that this would only be among those who care about losing money.

“Those who don’t care about the ticket, they don’t care about the money because their parents will pay for the ticket, or whatever. They will still do it,” said De Pinares, “They will find ways around it”.

Camille Rosa, junior social work student, agrees with the ban.

“I actually think its great. Anytime that I’ve tried to text and drive, I can’t. It’s really difficult to really pay attention to the road and text at the same time,” said Rosa, who pointed out that such a practice is dangerous.

When it came to the efficacy of the law, Rosa said she believes that it will work.

“I think a lot of accidents happen because people are not paying attention. I don’t know the statistics to accidents, but I know […] a lot them had not been paying attention,” said Rosa.

In a previous report, Student Media pointed to how the law allows authorities the option of using phone bill records to determine whether or not an individual was texting at the time of a road-related infraction. This has caused some students to ponder the role of the right to privacy in the matter.

Rosa claimed that while she believed that the law’s goals were important, the method of acquisition in this matter is questionable.

“I think maybe that’s pushing it a little too far, to check people’s phone records. But I guess I don’t see another way of them proving [it], so that might be the difficult part,” said Rosa.

Assistant University Police Chief Alphonse Ianniello thinks the law will one day be a primary offense.

“I think that texting while driving will be treated just like wearing a seatbelt,” said Ianniello in an interview with Student Media. “At first, I couldn’t just pull you over for not wearing one, but that changed and that’s the common process.”

Rosa explained that since it is a new law, the penalty is fine the way it is for now.

“I think for now it’s a good penalty. I actually think it should go higher eventually,” said Rosa.

Rosa emphasized that the penalty must be kept the same for now. That way, she claimed, citizens can accustom themselves to the law and policy makers see how the populace reacts to the current price of texting while driving.

“It’s not the correct way of teaching someone something,” said De Pinares, in contrast to Rosa.

De Pinares compared the ban to grounding and speeding, which he believes are questionable methods of punishment. He emphasized education of individuals at an early level as an alternative approach to texting while driving.

“Putting a penalty to it is a wrong way of doing it,” said De Pinares.


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