What You Need to Know About Florida’s New Texting and Driving Law

The days of checking emails and texting friends while driving are over. July 1 marked the beginning of Florida’s new texting and driving law, which allows law enforcement officers to pull over and cite motorists for texting, typing or emailing behind the wheel. In addition, cell phones must be used in hands-free mode while driving through school zones and construction zones.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles intends the new texting and driving law to promote safety on the roads, reduce distracted driving and ensure motorists are focused on driving.

However, a vehicle that is stationary is not subject to the prohibition in the law. The law also doesn’t apply to drivers who are reporting an emergency or criminal/suspicious activity to law enforcement, receiving messages that are related to weather, emergency, or traffic alerts, and using their devise for navigation purposes such as GPS. More exceptions apply.

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the first violation for drivers is a non-moving offense with a $30 fine and no points assessed to the driver’s record. If a second violation happens within five years, it will be a moving offense and the driver will be fined $60 with three points assessed to the driver’s record.

Starting Oct. 1, 2019, wireless communications devices can only be used in a hands-free manner when driving through a school crossing, school zone or active work zone area. Any offense is a moving traffic violation and the driver will be fined $60 with three points assessed to the driver’s record. Starting January 1, 2020, drivers will be cited for using any wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in a work zone or school zone.

To educate drivers of the new law, troopers will issue warnings for these offenses through Dec. 31, 2019. Exceptions will be made in extremely dangerous driving situations. Protect yourself, your family, other drivers and pedestrians by putting your phone down when you get behind the wheel. No message is more important than a life.

For more information and additional resources, visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.


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Written by Natasha Boschetti

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