How does Florida’s New Law Banning Texting-and-Driving affect Me?
New Florida Law Bans Texting-and-Driving
On July 1, 2019, Florida’s law on banning texting-while-driving went into full effect. This new legislation impacts any person who operates a vehicle on Florida’s roadways, highways, streets, and even alleyways. According to research groups such as the National Safety Council, cell phone use – including texting while driving – directly causes over 1.6 million vehicle crashes each year. Statistics claim that approximately 400,000 injuries are directly related to car accidents caused by texting while driving and now virtually 1 out of every 4 car accidents happen because of texting and driving.
So, you may be asking, how does Florida’s ban on drivers texting and driving affect you. Under the new 2019 law, Florida drivers are now completely banned from using their cellphones to text, email, Snapchat, or any other activity that involves physically “typing or entering… letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless device” while driving. Florida’s new text ban also prevents drivers from using their cell phones to also “read” any data on their mobile device.
We all are aware that distracted driving is one of the most prevalent causes of car accidents throughout the country. Washington state was the first state to ban texting and driving in 2007. Now, 48 states, including Washington D.C. ban the use of a cell phone to text while the person is operating a car. Because car accidents are so deadly, many other states have banned or limited texting or using a mobile device while driving. In 2019, Florida now joins these other states in limiting a driver’s use of their mobile phone.
Can I use my phone while stopped at a red light?
The short answer: yes. Pursuant to the new law, the texting ban does not affect a car that is “stationary” and is not “subject to the prohibition.” However, if you are still using your phone when you begin to drive then you are subject to the prohibition and can certainly receive a ticket.
What about using Navigation while driving?
The law does allow for a few narrow exceptions to the ban on cellphone use while driving. According to the law, it appears you are allowed to use your mobile device to assist in navigation, broadcasts, and safety-related information. However, your phone is still a distraction and best practices call for using a “spoken” navigation assistant or similar type of system.
Can I use my cellphone while driving in a school zone or construction zone?
Not after October 1, 2019! Hand-held cell phone use has been banned in Florida after October 1, 2019, in any school zone or construction zone where workers are present. However, mobile phone use will be allowed in these restricted zones, however, you must be using a Bluetooth or similar application. And, this makes sense. We all know that places such as school zones and construction areas can be more dangerous since there are people walking on the roads, distractions, etc. Best practices suggest that you should not use a cell phone at all in a school zone – the children, parents, and teachers will be very appreciative.
What is the fine for texting and driving?
If you are pulled over for texting your first citation will be $30 and you will lose a point off your license. The second time you are caught, the fine increases to $60 – and more importantly, you will lose three points off your driver’s license if you’re caught again within five years. However, the risk of causing an accident because you are distracted by your cell phone while driving is much greater than a minimal fine. This is also not to mention that should you cause a crash your insurance company may increase your rates, you may have significant property damage, and worst you could hurt or kill another person all because the text could not wait…
So, my advice – if you plan on driving, put the phone down! Not only can a police officer issue you a ticket for using your cell phone while driving, but you could hurt yourself, or someone else. Put the phone down – the message can wait!