New Texting While Driving Law to Take Effect
Florida has passed a new texting-and-driving law, which promises to make our roads safer. However, motorists need to understand the law so that they don’t get picked up. As reported by The Ledger, the bill passed with strong majorities in both the state Legislature and Senate. Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law.
How Does the Law Change?
Florida already has a texting-and-driving law on the books, but the current law makes texting and driving only a secondary offense. That means an officer cannot stop you for suspected texting and driving. But if you are stopped for another reason, such as speeding, then the officer can cite you for texting while the vehicle was moving.
The new law makes texting while driving a primary offense. Now, the cops can pull you over if they suspect you are trying to tap out a text message while the car is in motion. They don’t need any other reason; texting while driving is enough. This means that more people are likely to be stopped and cited for texting than when it was only a secondary offense.
The law also bans using a handheld cell phone while in a school zone, designated school crossing, or road work zone. You can still use a hands-free device in these areas, though we recommend you not talk on the phone while driving.
When Does the Law Come into Effect?
The two pieces of the law will come into effect at different times:
- Texting as a primary offense goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
- The ban on handheld phones in work and school zones goes into effect on October 1, 2019.
Of course, if Governor DeSantis vetoes the bills, they will not go into effect. But given the large majorities that support this legislation, we do not think a veto is likely.
Have the Punishments Increased?
No. Texting while driving is still a noncriminal infraction. The fine will remain $30 plus any court costs and fees. You will also have 3 points added to your driving record.
If this is not your first violation, then you will pay more. A second violation within a 5-year period will set you back $60 in addition to court costs.
Can I Text at a Stop Light?
Yes, you can text while your vehicle is stationary. This means you can quickly send a text while idling at a stop sign or a red light. However, we encourage motorists to be realistic. Chances are you will not finish your text by the time the light changes, and if you hit the accelerator while texting, you are breaking the law. It is probably best to put your phone away until you reach your destination.
Speak with a Daytona Beach Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Distracted driving leads directly to many injuries in Daytona Beach and around Florida. If you have been injured, meet with a lawyer right away to discuss possible compensation for your injuries. The Daytona Beach car accident lawyers at Bundza & Rodriguez have helped many injured motorists, so call us at 386-252-5170 to find out what we can do for you.