SARASOTA, Fla. - Driving and noticing someone with a phone in their hand and their eyes off the road is very common, but now officials are hoping a texting ban will make people put the phone down and get their eyes back on the road.
"I hear stories of how kids were hit by other drivers and it just breaks my heart to see how their lives were changed by someone texting. A simple little text like 'I'm on my way' or 'I love you.' And, I just don't think that's right," said Sarasota resident Abby Ponce.
State lawmakers agree with Ponce. They've passed a texting ban that is set to take effect on October 1st. It gives law enforcement the power to issue tickets to those caught texting and driving. But the measure is a secondary offense which means drivers must first break another law before being cited.
"If we see that someone is texting and looking down we will be able to pull them over for a first offense which will be swerving or careless driving and the secondary offense would be the texting and driving," said Officer Linda DeNiro with the Sarasota Police Department.
Traffic Unit Officer Kevin Schafer says finding offenders will be easy and officers wont be giving out any breaks. "If I see somebody speeding and while they're speeding I see their fingers moving on the phone, I'm just going to assume their texting," added Schafer.
But that assumption is causing some concern among residents. "People shouldn't be texting and driving but how could you prove that I'm texting and driving," said Sarasota resident Steve Washington.
Officer Schafer says law enforcement will use their experience to make that determination. And in some case drivers will have to prove their case in court. In the mean time residents like Ponce support the efforts many say will help make our roadways safer.
"When you're in the car you should put you phone down. It can wait," Ponce added.
The fine for the texting and driving will range from a base ticket of $30 to 6 points on your divers license.