New Law Allows Cops To Pull Over Texting Drivers
You probably already know that texting while driving is illegal. What you may not know is that cops were not allowed to pull you over just for breaking this law… until now. Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a new law that gives law enforcement officials the authority to pull over drivers they suspect are texting and driving, even if the driver hasn’t done anything else wrong.
A Small But Significant Change
Since texting while driving is already illegal, many people are wondering why this change was needed. The short answer is — it wasn’t. Supporters of the legislation claim that it will make us all safer because people will not want to risk getting a ticket. But we all know that drivers who are tempted to check and send messages while operating a vehicle are not going to be persuaded to put down their phones so easily.
What the law will actually do is give police another pretext for pulling people over. We saw this when the law changed to allow the cops to pull over drivers not wearing a seatbelt, and we are going to see it again. People won’t drive safer, more people will just get pulled over.
This is a problem because statistics show our law enforcement officials target black individuals much more than they do white individuals. Lawmakers know this. You can tell because they put a provision in the new texting while driving law that requires police to note the race and ethnicity of each ticketed driver and to send that data to the Legislature. Unfortunately, a little bit of data collecting isn’t going to magically make Miami area police more reasonable and less biased.
When Does The Law Go Into Effect?
The new law was just signed by the governor. It goes into effect on October 1. Beginning then, cops will be able to stop drivers and issue a warning for texting while driving. Starting January 1, 2020, the police will be able to stop drivers and write actual tickets instead of just giving out warnings.
Don’t Be Afraid To Put Up A Fight
If you are ticketed for texting while driving, now or after the new law goes into effect, you should consider hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC has helped hundreds of drivers in the greater Miami area clear their good names and avoid getting points on their licenses after being ticketed for a motor vehicle offense.
In texting while driving cases, we are often able to show that the charge was inappropriate under the circumstances. We have also used phone records to prove our client was innocent.
Under the new texting while driving law, first time offenders will be able to avoid paying the ticket and getting points on their license by presenting the court clerk with proof of purchase of a hands-free bluetooth device and attending a driver safety course.
We also anticipate many tickets will have to be thrown out because law enforcement officials will illegally ask to view a driver’s phone content. The new law requires officers to notify the driver that he or she can refuse an officer’s request to look through a phone. There is no doubt in our mind that many officers will mess this up because they love looking through people’s phones in search of other crimes they can charge or to fulfill their curiosity.
We aren’t going to let our clients be taken advantage of when this new law goes into effect. We will continue to stand up and fight for their rights and their privacy.
Posted in: Criminal