New Rules of the Road

We’re officially several months into Florida’s texting and driving law. Gone are the days of checking emails and texting friends while behind the wheel, but for many, it has been a difficult habit to break.

Now that you’re starting to get used to it, another condition will be added to the law next month. Here are the details. 

What You Need to Know

July 1 marked the introduction of the state’s Wireless Communications While Driving Law, section 316.305, Florida Statutes. It allows law enforcement officers to pull over and cite motorists for texting, typing or emailing while driving. In addition, it requires that cell phones be used in hands-free mode while driving through school zones and construction zones.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles intended for the texting and driving law to promote safety on the roads, reduce distracted driving and ensure motorists are focused on driving. However, there are some exceptions. 

A vehicle that is stationary is not subject to the prohibition in the law. It 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 device for navigation purposes such as GPS. 

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 their record.

Part Two is Coming Soon

Starting Oct. 1, 2019, another condition of the law will start to be enforced. At that time, wireless communications devices are only to 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. There will be a learning curve once this new condition goes into place. To educate drivers, troopers will issue warnings for these offenses through Dec. 31, 2019. Exceptions will be made in extremely dangerous driving situations. Then, on Jan. 1, 2020, drivers will be cited for using any wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in a work zone or school zone.

It’s important to 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

Written by Natasha Boschetti

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