Florida Law Texting and Driving
July 07, 2019
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3,655 motor vehicle crashes in the state of Florida were caused by using a cell phone while driving last year alone. Of those, 15 were fatalities. It’s no wonder the state is cracking down on texting and driving. In fact, 44 other states across the country have taken similar measures.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would make texting while driving a “primary offense.” It will officially take effect on July 1st. What does that mean for motorists? Here’s everything you need to know about how the law aims to stop texting and driving.

Florida Law Aim to Stop Texting and Driving

The law doesn’t just apply to texting. All forms of typing on a mobile device while driving will be illegal starting July 1st.

‘Primary Offense’

Beginning July 1st, texting while driving will be classified as a primary offense. Before, officers couldn’t pull over a driver just for texting and driving. The driver had to be committing another offense as well, such as speeding or running a red light.

Now, the bill makes it possible for police officers to stop drivers solely for using a phone while driving — not just texting. This includes emailing and any other forms of typing on a mobile device.

Penalties

Until Jan. 1, 2020, texting while driving was primarily enforced through warnings for drivers to have the chance to get accustomed to the new law. However, after that educational period, the penalties for using a phone while driving are as follows:

  • First violation: $30 minimum fine, plus associated court costs and fees.
  • Second violation within 5 years: Upgrade to a moving violation. $60 minimum fine, plus associated court costs and fees.
  • All violations: 3 points added to your record.

Enforcement

While the new law aims to stop texting and driving, it doesn’t come without challenges. Often, police officers will have to see the violation while they are driving, which can make it difficult to enforce. Critics of the law might argue that it makes people of color easier for police to target. However, there will be a degree of accountability. Officers will be required to record the race and ethnicity of drivers cited for the violation, beginning on February 2020.

Exceptions

While the law seeks to impose stricter penalties against drivers who use their phones behind the wheel, there are a few exceptions. Texting at a stoplight or while a vehicle is stationary will not be a ticketable offense. Additionally, emergency personnel are exempted, as well as people reporting an emergency or criminal activity.

Plus, if you’re using your phone for navigation or other safety-related notices, like weather and traffic alerts, you’ll be exempted as well. Hands-free devices remain legal as well.

Other Regulations

The texting-while-driving law includes another caveat worth noting- it more broadly bans any use of a mobile device while driving through a school or work zone. However, that stipulation won’t go into effect until October 1st.

Lasting Impacts

Be sure to know your rights. If you get pulled over, remember that the law hopes to stop texting and driving, thus making the roads safer for everybody. By the same token, you are not required to show or surrender your device without a warrant, which isn’t usually available during a routine traffic stop.

The best thing to do whenever you’re driving is to err on the side of caution. Don’t text and drive just because you think you’re not at risk of getting caught. Your choices will catch up to you eventually, whether through an accident or a ticket.

If you do get involved in a car accident, whether it’s your fault or not, it’s important to seek treatment for your injuries. Make an appointment  at one of County Line Chiropractic’s six convenient locations across South Florida and take the first step toward recovery.

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