With the start of the New Year, Florida’s ban against texting while driving is going into full effect statewide. That means drivers will no longer be given just a warning for a violation.
The measure (HB 107) makes texting while driving a primary offense. Previously, typing behind the wheel was a secondary offense, meaning drivers could only be cited for the violation if pulled over for some other reason. Now, drivers can be cited just for texting while driving.
The prohibition includes a block on drivers emailing or typing on a phone in any manner while the car is in motion. Individuals can still text at a red light or while pulled over.
After the law was passed in 2019, it took effect in two phases. The texting while driving ban technically became law on July 1, 2019. But the Florida Highway Patrol and several other law enforcement agencies stated drivers would get a grace period of six months, where only warnings would be issued.
That grace period expires on Jan. 1, 2020.
The second phase of the law includes a complete bar on using your phone in any manner while in a construction or school zone. That means drivers are also not allowed to use their phone to make calls. Drivers can, however, still use Bluetooth devices in those areas.
That provision kicked in on Oct. 1, 2019. But again, a short grace period was given, which also expires Jan. 1, 2020.
Going forward, drivers caught texting behind the wheel will be fined $30 for a first offense. Those who violate the hands-free requirement in construction or school zones will be docked $60 and given three points on their driver’s license.
Slosberg, who lost her sister in a deadly car crash more than two decades ago, is also pushing additional driving safety measures in the upcoming 2020 Session. One of those efforts would expand the hands-free provision to all drivers, rather than only those in construction or school zones.