Texting while driving is a major problem in Central Florida. Just look at the cars around you on I-4 or any roadway, and you will see numerous drivers distracted by their screens. For years, our state has been one of the most lenient when it comes to cracking down on texting while driving. But this is all set to change with the passing of House Bill 107, which will go into effect July 1, 2019. Here’s what Florida drivers need to know about the new texting and driving bill.
- Texting while driving will now be a primary offense.
Florida House Bill 107 makes texting while driving a primary offense, which means law enforcement can pull you over simply for the act of texting and driving. Previous legislation enacted in 2013, considered texting while driving a “secondary offense,” which meant law enforcement must have some other reason to pull you over, first. The new bill also makes it illegal to hold or use your phone while in a construction area or school zone.
- What is the penalty?
First-time violators will receive a $30 fine, not including court costs, second-time violators will receive a $60 fine and any court costs. Violations in construction zones and school zones will result in greater penalties, with three points being added to the person’s drivers license in addition to fines and court fees.
People who are issued citations can have three points assessed against their driver’s license. First-time offenders can elect to participate in a wireless communications device driving safety program and, upon completion, have costs and points waived by a court clerk.
- Can drivers still use their cell phones at stoplights?
Technically, yes. The new law does not ban drivers from operating their phones at stop lights, to get directions or for any other reason while “the motor vehicle is stationary.”
- When will the new texting while driving ban take effect?
- A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect on October 1, 2019.
- During the period from October 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, officers may stop drivers who are texting and issue them a verbal or written warning.
- Starting January 1, 2020 officers can issue citations under the new law.
- Are there exceptions to the new law?
HB 107 has certain exceptions that allow drivers to communicate while driving. The law does allow for drivers to use Bluetooth and GPS, so long as it is not in a school zone or work zone, where drivers are not allowed to use their phones at all. Additionally, if you are at a stoplight, you may use your wireless device, although we do not recommend it for purposes of paying attention to the road and others around you.
Distracted driving kills nine people every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also responsible for more teen deaths than drunk driving. Texting is not the only driving distraction behind the wheel. Eating and drinking, tending to passengers and pets in the vehicle, personal grooming, adjusting the radio and other dashboard distractions, can all lead to a distracted driving-related auto accident.
Involved in a Distracted Driving Car Accident? Call Benenati Law.
Distracted drivers cause the majority of auto accidents in Central Florida, with millions of dollars in medical costs and property damages arising from such collisions. If you were involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. If you are involved in an accident, make sure you take a large number of photos – not just one or two. Take a photo of your car AND their car damage. After making sure you are safe from onlookers driving by, take a back up shot of both cars, NOT just up close photos of damage. Take photos if there is broken glass, tail light, etc.
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.
At The Benenati Law Firm, we have a culture of care at our firm and provide clients with the attention and responsiveness their personal injury case deserves. 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.