The New Year Brings New Laws in Central Florida

It is a brand-new year, which means many of us are resolving to make changes. I made resolutions to lose weight, drink more water, and have more discipline in my life. It is easier said than done. One of the biggest resolutions that so far, I have succeeded in, is not to text and drive. Yes, I admit it! I do it from time to time. I usually text when I am in my car without my kids and I know it is wrong. That being said, the New Year has also brought changes and important updates to Florida law.  Here are some new laws taking effect in 2020.

Drivers can now be ticketed for texting and driving in Florida.

You may be familiar with the new law passed during the 2019 state legislative session making texting and driving a primary offense. However, before 2020 law enforcement could only give drivers a warning.  Beginning January 1, 2020 drivers who are pulled over for texting and driving will be ticketed.

If you are caught using or holding your cell phone while driving in a school zone or construction zone after January 1, you could receive a $60 fine plus county assessment taxes and fees, as well as three points on your driver’s license.

Think about it. If you are driving and a police officer sees you thought the window texting, he is going to pull you over.

What happens if you are driving in one of these zones, and you receive a phone call? If someone calls you while you are in a school zone or active construction zone, you can tap the phone to answer it but not physically hold your phone in your hands. We recommend using a Bluetooth or other similar hands-free device. When in doubt, the Florida Highway Patrol recommends that if you are using a hands-free device, you must have at least one of your ears without an ear bud in your ear for the hands-free exemption to fully qualify.

Increase in the Legal Smoking Age

Another change in 2020 involves a new federal law that raises the age of who can purchase cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products from age 18 to 21. E-cigarettes, including JUUL and other vaping products, which have been heavily marketing to teens are included in this ban.

Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage in Florida has increased from $8.46 to $8.56 an hour. While this is a minimal increase, it goes into effect at the beginning of the year.  If you earn your living mostly through tips, you will see a small increase in pay from $5.44 to $5.54 an hour. Voters will see a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in the November elections asking whether the state’s minimum wage should eventually reach $15.00 an hour.

Electronic Notaries  

Getting your documents notarized will be an easier process in the New Year. As of January 1, Floridians will be able to get their documents notarized electronically instead of in person. The new law allows the signer and witness to appear before a registered online notary public at the time of notarization either in person or through audio-video communication technology.  The online notary public will need to still receive satisfactory evidence regarding the signer’s identity before notarizing any document.

Honoring Veterans

As of January 1, a new “Honor and Remember” flag will be the official Florida emblem in honor of those who served in the armed forces. This new flag is red, white and blue with a gold star, outlined by a blue star. Inside the gold star is a folded flag with white stars and a flame above the star. This new flag was created to recognize those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country and will be displayed at any state-owned building where the national flag is displayed, as well as at any state-owned military memorial.

Know Your Legal Rights after an Orlando Auto Accident.

Keep track of your symptoms (both physical and mental) as they occur. If anything feels not normal or out of the ordinary, make sure you document that fact and inform your doctor. Do not sign off on any settlement initially offered by your insurance (or the other driver’s) insurance company, before speaking with an attorney, first.

The Benenati Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its auto accident victims and their families. Our firm is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Orlando and throughout Central Florida victims injured in auto accidents or through negligence need only hit the 7s to reach the personal injury offices of the Benenati Law Firm. Personal Injury Attorney Walter Benenati understands Florida’s complex personal injury laws and fights hard to protect the legal rights of injured clients and their families- holding auto insurers like State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO and others accountable for the pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages suffered by their clients.

Our oath to you is handling your case from start to finish effectively, competently, and aggressively. Allow us the opportunity to give you the personal attention you deserve in your case. You pay us nothing unless we win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at 407-777-7777 for a free legal consultation.

Abogado Hispano con experiencia en juicios sirviendo las necesidades legales de la comunidad de la Florida.