The state of Florida’s newly reformed texting and driving prohibition laws impose stricter consequences for the dangerous driver behavior. The regulations will become officially enforceable starting on July 1, 2019.
Previously, phone use behind the wheel was considered a secondary offense, meaning a police officer could only issue a charge for texting and driving if the offender was committing another, separate violation. Under the pre-July 1st laws, an officer who observed a person using their phone while driving, but otherwise obeying all traffic regulations, could not legally penalize the driver. If they were texting and driving while running a stop sign, however, the driver could be charged with the stop sign violation as well as texting and driving.
Now, police officers will be able to pull over the driver who was just texting and driving (or using their cell phone for other purposes, aside from hands-free use) without other violations — the law establishes phone use in the car as a primary offense, and with it comes more widely-enforced consequences.
A first-time texting and driving violation will result in a $30 fine. For second offenses that are committed within five years of the first charge, drivers will have to pay $60, and will get three points on their license. Offenders will also be subject to additional court fees if they are charged with texting and driving.
Forty-four states consider phone use while driving as a primary offense. In comparison to some of these other states, Florida’s regulations are slightly less strict. Whereas some other states completely prohibit phone use while someone is behind the wheel, the Florida law allows use if a car is stopped. Drivers in the Sunshine State will not be penalized if they are operating their vehicle but using their phone for navigation, receiving emergency alerts, or contacting police.
The new legislation is an important step towards making Florida roads safer for everyone. All phone use while driving is hazardous, and contributes to a significant portion of fatal accidents. Contact Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. if you or a loved one were hurt in a motor vehicle collision.
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