Bill to ban texting while driving goes back to FL. Senate

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 5:34 pm | Updated: 11:28 pm, Wed May 1, 2013.

SARASOTA COUNTY - Some last minute roadblocks are jeopardizing a proposed ban on texting while driving.

At odds is a controversial amendment now attached to the bill, which would keep police from accessing phone records in most cases.

Florida is one of only a few states without a law against texting while driving. It’s something many now consider more dangerous than drinking and driving.

In the final hours, the seemingly slam dunk bill is finding some push back.

Ask most people on the street, like Tina Bell, what they think about texting and driving and you get a similar answer. “I think they should pass a law everywhere to make it illegal."

That's why it was a surprise to some local politicians which have championed the bill that at the last minute it's being held up. "Initially, I was a little concerned because of the timing," says Representative Doug Holder

On Wednesday Holder and the majority of the Florida House quickly approved new language added to the bill. "The bill sponsor was concerned about personal liberties and law enforcement being able to subpoena someone's phone records for just a violation."

There is concern that drivers could have their phones searched for even the simplest suspicion. In the new language, officers could only access records in cases where there was a death or injury.

Some have argued it waters down the law. In 110-6 vote Wednesday, the House adopted the amended bill sending it back to the Senate. "The Senate only has to take it up from messages and bring it up on the floor."

The new amended bill could be rejected by the Senate and sent back to the House. That could risk anything being accepted. Holder believes it will ultimately go through before the session ends this week. "I have great confidence in the Florida Senate and I am very confident that they will do the right thing. Pull it up, vote it out, and send it to the governor."

The way it is written now, it would be a secondary violation, meaning you would have to be doing something else illegal like speeding or swerving.

If passed first time offenders would face a $30 fine.

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