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New bill proposes texting while driving become a primary offense

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. – Many of us are guilty of it – texting while driving.

For now, you're only supposed to be ticketed for it when getting pulled over for something else first.

But a bill recently filed by State Senator Thad Altman would change the language of a bill passed in 2013 by Senator Nancy Detert.

It would make texting while driving a primary offense, instead of just a secondary offense. It's an idea that Senator Detert herself isn't in favor of.

"Every single year people file the same bill to put in more restrictions or up the penalties,” Detert, a Republican serving the 28th district, told ABC 7 over the phone on Sunday. “The idea of my bill was to change behavior, and I think we had a great awareness campaign and I think what we did has changed the behavior of people that were texting and driving."

Suncoast resident Charles Dare is among those who agree with Detert. He doesn't want to see law enforcement tied up trying to catch everyone who's texting.

"I imagine police would be kept awfully busy if were treated as a first offense, so unfortunately I don't think it should be treated as a first offense,” he said.

Dare also told us he doesn't think tighter legislation will change people's behavior

"Unfortunately if an accident does happen, it's too late to go back on that but so be it."

Venice resident Pat Howard is on the other side of the argument.

"Any distraction while you're driving is dangerous,” she said. “You need to be concentrating on what you're doing."

The bill is still only in a preliminary stage, having just been filed. The Florida legislative session doesn't begin until March, and the bill has a long way to go before it would land on Governor Rick Scott's desk.