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Selfish Florida drivers may be penalized

If you have ever inched forward in traffic only to see latecomers wiggle in, this bill's for you.

By Erika Bolstad
Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE – Veteran commuters know the worst offenders: They speed up beside you, then cut you off when their lane ends.

Soon, that behavior could earn drivers a ticket, three points on their license and a fine of more than $80, under legislation proposed by state Sen. Steve Geller.

It's already unlawful to cross a solid line to pass another car. But Geller, tired of people cutting in front of him on South Florida roadways, proposed expanding the law to make it a moving violation to jump in line in front of other drivers.

''People who think they're better than the rest of us, they just go to the front,'' said Geller, a Democrat from Hallandale Beach. ``If I'm going to wait, I want everyone to wait.''

The law would apply to drivers who are ``exiting or entering a roadway, merging, or traveling through a designated construction zone.''

Dennis Stotts remembers an irate driver who stopped his car in the middle of Interstate 95 during morning rush hour.
The man got out and started screaming at Stotts, an environmental attorney who has commuted from Hollywood to downtown Miami for 18 years.

Stotts' offense? Honking at the driver for cutting him off.

''I've gotten kind of numb to it,'' Stotts said.

``But I have called the police if I see somebody so reckless. People really get crazy.''

Geller's proposal is attached to a transportation bill that addresses the minutiae of driver's licenses and title and registration issues. It has final stops in both the Senate and House appropriations committees, and is expected to pass easily this year.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles had no objection to Geller's idea Tuesday.

''We've all been irritated by waiting and seeing others butt in,'' said Robert Sanchez, a department spokesman.
The Florida Highway Patrol also welcomed the measure as another way of cracking down on aggressive drivers, FHP Lt. Roger J. Reyes said.

''Even a trooper in a patrol car will be sitting in traffic, and you'll see someone just driving down the shoulder,'' he said.
Geller said his amendment was inspired last year while driving to a Marlins playoff game. As he waited to exit the Florida Turnpike, 90 minutes before the national anthem and with the stadium in sight, no one was moving – except the people who were cutting around Geller and other carloads of people in line.

''All these jerks were just zooming by on the left,'' Geller said.

Gregg Laskoski, a spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, questions whether troopers and patrol officers have time to enforce an ''it's-not-fair'' traffic law.

''Given the somewhat limited resources of law enforcement, you would think you would want them to be enforcing more severe traffic problems, such as running red lights or speeding,'' Laskoski said.

Most veteran commuters have found ways to deal with the worst offenders: just let them in.

''I'm not going to get in a fight,'' said Stuart Kinstler, a Kendall driver who remembers when the morning rush hour on the Palmetto lasted less than 15 minutes.

``Why fight it? Most people down here carry guns.''

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