Bill would criminalize death as result of texting and driving

Bill would criminalize death as result of texting and driving, punishable up to 30 years

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Pending legislation would give drivers up to 30 years in jail for causing a death while texting and driving.

We know texting and driving is illegal in Florida, but some lawmakers believe a simple ticket isn't enough of a deterrent.
 
"You just take your eyes off the road for just a brief second and anything can happen," said Carrie Weaver who supports the proposed law.
 
A bill that just passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee in the Florida House proposes that, if a person causes a fatal car accident while texting and driving, they could face up to 30 years in prison.
 
"I don't think that's much at all when you consider you might have killed someone who could have been living 50 or 60 years," said Linda Herron, who also supports the pending legislation.
 
Under the current state statute, there's no specific penalty if a driver kills someone as a result of texting and driving.  It's simply documented in the report.
 
"I was horrified to learn that we have multiple cases in Florida where folks are texting and driving and there's a death and they end up getting a careless driving ticket," said Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando.
 
The bill would also penalize drivers with a criminal offense, a felony of the first or second or degree, depending on the circumstances of the crash.
 
"The 30 year requirement only applies if you fail to render aid to the person who you hit.  It's up to 15 years if you killed them, but you attempt to render aid," Soto said.
 
The law would make the penalty for a fatal texting and driving accident almost the same as the penalties for DUI manslaughter.
 
"I would be for it, but I just think it's too much," said Lance Klein, a driver.  "The penalty is too much."
 
"You need to put a penalty on it, so it makes it to the point where you're not going to do it," said Anthony Squitieri, who supports the proposed law.
 
Under the law, the same penalty would apply for surfing the Internet or writing an email on a phone while driving.

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