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Will Ban on Driving While Texting BRB?

The Senate sponsor of a ban on texting while driving said Tuesday that one of the 160 characters in the Legislature should not be allowed to delete the proposal.

The Senate approved the ban 34-4 after Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, pressed members of the to hit send on a message to Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, who said Monday the measure would not pass the House.

The measure (CS/SB 448) to make TWD - texting while driving - a crime is considered a longshot with House Finance and Tax Council Chair Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, refusing to advance the measure.

"You may have heard on your nightly news that this bill is dead," Detert said. "It is not dead in the Florida Senate..... Let 119 members in the House - not one member - decide."

Bogdanoff said there wasn't time left in the session to pass the measure, but also said earlier this week that she believes the legislation, if it does anything, should go after distractions of all sorts, not just texting. She also said that technology has a way of dealing with problems it causes - noting that newer cars have radio dials on the steering wheel, for example, and cell phone makers made hands-free devices to address some concerns about dialing while driving.

The measure passed by the Senate Tuesday would allow law enforcement to impose a $30 fine for a non-moving violation if a motorist is spotted composing a message on a cell phone, Blackberry, or other device while driving. A second offense within five years would draw a $60 fine that would be considered a moving violatio. That would put three points on a driver's license. If a texting driver is found to cause an accident, six points will be applied to their license.

Text- and cell-phone limits became one of the most popular legislative topics this spring, with a dozen bills filed to impose some kind of restriction. Many were aimed at teen-age drivers, with Gov. Charlie Crist among those lending his support to some kind of crackdown.

But in the session’s homestretch, limits now look unlikely, with Bogdanoff an influential roadblock.

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