The New (and Stricter) Law Involving Texting & Driving in Florida Takes Effect This Month

Beginning this month, Florida law enforcement will start ticketing drivers who are holding or using a cell phone while traveling in a school zone or in an active construction zone. This new law took effect October 1, 2019 after being passed during the 2019 legislative session.

Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers banned texting while driving, but this law did not result in banning all handheld use of phones while driving. The new law does just that when it comes to areas that are considered higher risk. Violations include scrolling through news feeds on your phone or even holding your phone while talking to someone.

Florida law enforcement is using the next three months as a warning period to allow drivers to get used to the new law. For now, drivers will only receive warnings for offenses. However, after January 1, 2020, if you are using your phone while in a school or construction zone, any violation is considered fair game for a fine.

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.

Prior to this law going into effect, using a hand-held device while driving was considered only a secondary offense, which meant that the driver must have been committing some other traffic offense first to justify being pulled over before receiving a ticket for the secondary offense. Now, however, using your hand-held phone is a primary offense, which means law enforcement only needs to witness you using your cell phone before pulling 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.

Stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws can be expected in Florida. Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, has filed a bill Monday in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 legislative session that would make it illegal for drivers to operate their vehicles while “manually holding or otherwise touching a wireless communications device.” If passed, this law would put Florida in line with 20 other states, including California and New York, who have complete bans on using cell phones while driving.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving:

The National Safety Council has several tips to keep you from being distracted while driving, which we recommend, as well. The first of these tips is to keep the distractions out of sight, out of mind. We are all so connected to our cell phones today, but while you are behind the wheel, make sure your phone is not accessible. Keep your phone in the back seat or simply out of reach to avoid the temptation. Place your phone on “Driving Mode,” which mutes all incoming message notifications while you are driving. Turn off your cell phone, if necessary, while you are driving. If you need to make an important call or return a message, only do so once you can park your car in a safe place.

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. 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.

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. 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.