What Florida drivers need to know about the new texting and driving rule

Texting and driving is already illegal in Florida. However, on July 1 it become a primary offense instead of a secondary offense under state law. This means that police officers can pull over drivers solely based on suspicion of texting while driving.

Penalties remain the same. Offenders will receive a $30 base fine plus additional fees for a first violation. Fines will increase for subsequent violations. Drivers caught texting while driving will also have three points added to their driver’s license.

From October 1 the law also aims to enforce a broader ban on cellphone use while driving in a school or construction zone. Following a three-month grace period, officers will start issuing citations for Florida drivers who use handheld devices in these areas from January 1. Drivers will also face enhanced penalties.

Hands-free cellphone use remains legal. In addition, texting at a stoplight or while a vehicle is not moving is not considered an offense.

The change in the law appears to be a response to the rising number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were over 170 crashes in the state due to texting and driving in 2018. If you have been a victim of an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Joyce and Reyes Law Firm P.A. to learn how we can help you pursue compensation.