Texting and driving ban: what you can and can’t do - FOX 13 News

Texting and driving ban: what you can and can’t do

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The new law banning texting and driving is riddled with legal potholes.

Just because you are not supposed to text doesn't mean your smartphone is entirely out of bounds in the car.

You can still text as long as your car is stopped -- say, if you are at a red light, or even in a traffic jam.

Once you are moving, though, texting is not allowed -- but checking your GPS maps is still okay.

So if you are using a GPS system, are you allowed to be typing in a location? How is an officer going to know you are doing that, not texting?

"I don't know how an officer is ever going to be able to prove this unless he is actually at your window, and in this case, he would have to be running alongside your window," Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown said. "This law has no teeth at all. It's almost going to be impossible to enforce."

Here are some questions and answers that highlight the law's ambiguity:

If you are pulled over, do you have to show or give your phone to the officer?

"No. No question. You do NOT have to show an officer your phone. He has no legal right to go through your phone, to search it, to see if you were on it. You can simply say no. Now, a lot of people won't. A lot of people feel, if an officer tells them to do something, they have to. Legally speaking, you do not have to give the officer your phone. You don't even have to show it to them."

Could you be charged with resisting a police officer?

"No, he doesn't have a legal right to ask you to show him the phone. You have a legal right not to do that. It's not obstruction of justice either," Brown said.

What if the officer asks what you were doing on the phone?

"You shouldn't say anything. Your own words could incriminate you. You say nothing," Brown said. "I don't know how he's going to prove you were texting. The only way is that he would have to convince a judge that he actually saw you on the phone, saw the screen and saw you texting."

Can police get your phone records?

Not unless you were part of an accident.

Why pass the law?

Because if nothing else, it's a good start.

A more enforceable law would ban smartphone use in the car altogether, Brown says.

"You shouldn't be on the phone texting, you shouldn't be on the phone talking to people…you need both hands on the wheel. It's a distraction," Brown said. "This law needs to go much further."

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