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House Introduces Anti Texting Legislation

December 6th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Police may soon be able to stop you if they see you texting behind the wheel. The legislation is getting a major boost from the House Speaker, who has so far opposed the idea. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, concerns are also being raised about increased racial profiling.

Removing the words “secondary offense” from the state’s anti texting law has been an uphill battle. The deletion was routinely blocked by House leadership, who wouldn’t even consider the idea over because of privacy concerns.  Now House Speaker Richard Corcoran is supporting tougher enforcement.

 

“So we say if you want to look at someone’s phone, you’ve got to get a warrant. You can’t confiscate their phone. You can’t intimidate them to voluntarily give you their phone” says the House Speaker

 

Demetrius Branca has spent the last three years talking to high school students and fighting for tougher laws. His son, Anthony was killed by  texting driver in 2014. And dad Demetrius says he’s surprised, but thrilled by the House’s change of heart.

“You know, better late than never, but they recognize the dangers of it and they are finally doing something about it” say Branca, who did traffic safety presentations at two high schools Wednesday.

Opposition remains.

Black lawmakers are worried the bill will open the door for more racial profiling. They raised the same concerns when seatbelt were the issue.

 

Senator Audrey Gibson says one way to avoid profiling is to require hands free cell phone use.

“If we have hands free, then there’s no question and there’s no issue” says the Jacksonville Senator.

Demetrius Branca says he shares the profiling concerns. But he says there is a bigger picture.

 

“Racial profiling is real and its something we need to be on guard for without a doubt, but people are dying on the streets. People are dying because other people are not paying attention to the road” says Branca, who has made passing tougher laws almost a full time job.

And with the speakers support, police, who see drivers texting everyday, are one step closer to stopping those drivers without needing another reason to issue a ticket.

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