Last month Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill passed by the legislature this year to crack down on texting while driving. Starting July 1, police will be allowed to stop and ticket drivers for texting.
There are a few exceptions (which might make enforcement a bit tricky) and drivers will still be able to use their phone when their car is stopped.
While texting and driving has been prohibited in Florida since 2013, this new law makes texting and driving a “primary offense” meaning you can now be pulled over for it. Before, when it was a “secondary offense”, a police officer had to have another reason for pulling you over before you could get a ticket for texting. The penalty for a first offense will be $30 and $60 if you get caught a second time. You can also be charged court costs which could result in a much higher penalty. This is great news for Florida as tougher laws like this one will save lives. Distracted driving is a major safety issue and this law should deter people from texting while driving.
So, do you need to put your phone in the trunk while driving? Not exactly. You can still use your phone when you are stopped at a stoplight to send a text or email. When you’re moving, you can generally use your phone for GPS directions or to make a call. Rules are different for construction and school zones. You can’t have your phone in your hand at all in those areas.
The texting while driving law goes into effect July 1, but you’ve got a few months to get used to the change. Police officers will only be issuing a warning until January 1, 2020. After that, officers can write tickets and you will be fined.