The recent Florida law, F.S. 316.305, makes it a primary offense to text and drive. The law initially took effect July 2019 — drivers can’t say they aren’t aware of the law. The Wireless Communications While Driving Law was approved by the Legislature and made official with a signature by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
We see lots of motor-vehicle injuries and the stress and pain they cause here at the Law Office of Mark A. Cornelius, P.A. While it’s tough to say how many crashes have been the result of distracted drivers who have been texting, say on I-4, it’s certainly a habit that’s become all too common in our busy lives.
So what does it mean to you, the average driver, out and about doing errands and suddenly dealing with, say, a crisis at work while out of office? It’s tempting to text, even “K,” but don’t do it.
You can be pulled over by police for manually typing into a wireless device or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols. This includes texting, emailing and instant messaging.
The first offense of texting while driving in Florida carries a $30 base fine. But rack up a second offense within five years’ time and it’s considered a moving traffic violation and carries a $60 fee, with three points assessed against your driver’s license.
Though the new law’s passage was in the news when it became official in July, it hit another milestone Oct. 1.
Know your zone
That’s when the part of the law that makes it illegal to use a wireless device — unless it’s hands-free — in an active construction zone (such as the aforementioned I-4), school zone or school crossing, can get you pulled over, as well.
Through the end of the year, law enforcement will be warning drivers about these violations and the new legislation. However, as of January 1, 2020, using a hand-held wireless communication device in a work or school zone carries a base fine of $60 with three points against your license.
Points accruing against your license can result in higher insurance payments or cause you to have your license suspended. Both are things — like texting while driving — that should be avoided.
You may have heard that you are permitted to text while stopped. This is true, the staute does have an exception if the vehicle is stationary. But do you want to be that person that everyone is honking at when the light turned green and you are not moving? Keep your eyes on the road, and be safe!