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Texting while driving bill not stalled in the House, says co-sponsor

The texting while driving bill is expected to come up for a vote in the House early next week, likely Tuesday, according to the bill's co-sponsor Rep. Doug Holder. The bill  (HB 13) has been ready for a vote since April 4, but Holder said "there's no gamesmanship, it's not being held up for any particular reason."

The Venice Republican said the House will vote on the Senate companion bill (SB 52), which cleared that chamber on April 16th. It will be the first time any texting measure will be heard in the House.

Sen. Nancy Detert, also a Venice Republican, has been trying to get a texting bill passed for four years, said she "had been making a few trips to the House" but isn't panicking.

The bill makes texting while driving a secondary violation, which means a motorist would have to commit another offense, such as careless driving, in order to be pulled over. Once stopped, a driver could receive two tickets, one for the first infraction and one for texting.

The bill restricts the use of any handheld device designed to receive or send text or characters. It would include iPads as well as cellphones.

The penalty would be $30 for a first-time texting offense, a nonmoving violation. A driver would pay a $60 fine and be assessed three points if caught texting while driving again within five years, with more points added if the violation is in a school zone or another serious offense. Texting would be allowed in hands-off, high-tech cars and when a car is stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam.

Florida is one of five states without any type of texting ban.