As of July 1, 2019, Florida drivers can be pulled over if the police officer believes you were texting and driving. Before July 1, 2019, texting wasn’t a primary offense, meaning that police couldn’t pull citizens over for texting and driving. Under the new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, law enforcement now has the authority to pull over drivers JUST for texting and driving. This gives the police more power to pull you over under the pretext of “texting and driving”.
The first offense will be a non-moving traffic violation (no points) and a $30 fine. Second and subsequent offenses within five years will be a moving violation (3 points) and a $60 fine. Remember, the fine is per state statute; it does not include court costs or other fees imposed by the clerk of court in your county. The texting ban doesn’t apply to a driver using a navigation device or system or to a driver whose vehicle is stationary.
Although drivers are allowed to hold the phone to talk while driving, it isn’t recommended. And, starting October 1, 2019 a driver can’t hold a wireless device in their hands if they are in a school zone or an active work zone with workers present. You’re allowed to answer the phone except in the school or active work zones described above. Then you can tap the phone but not physically hold it in your hand. While the police can only stop a driver for texting and driving when the car is in motion, not at a stop light or toll booth, you can be cited for impeding the flow of traffic if you are required to be in motion and are distracted by your phone. The new law allows anyone to utilize a phone or other devices to track GPS directions.
Police are not allowed to ask for or take a driver’s phone to see if they were texting on a traffic stop.
For more information, see Florida Statute Title XXIII, Chapter 316, or call The Law Office of Gloria Seidule at 772-287-1220.