Until now texting while driving in Florida has been illegal, but that was hard to enforce. The Florida Legislature decided to help law enforcement officers prevent highway injuries and deaths caused by drivers using cell phones. I discussed the new law with Melissa Ross on First Coast Connect.
What the New Anti-Texting Law Means
The new law is set to take effect July 1. It makes texting and driving a primary offense: officers can stop drivers who text. The first violation carries a $30 fine, and the second a $60 fine, but court costs are added, so it’s not just the fine that’s paid. Unwisely, the law appears to let drivers text while sitting stopped in traffic; that’s still careless driving though, and texters stopped at the light who don’t see the light change will get clobbered from behind. The law does allow drivers to use their phone using hands-free devices, which are required for any kind of use in school zones and work zones. The state is planning an educational campaign and to issue warnings through year’s end. Ticketing will start January 1, 2020. The Governor has now signed the bill into law.
The stakes are higher for businesses whose employees cause an accident while talking, texting or using a cell phone while driving, while they are in the course and scope of employment. Drivers across the country are facing criminal charges when texting while driving claims a life. Listeners were encouraged to power down their phones and concentrate on the number one job they have behind the wheel: driving.