Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida for some time, but a new law (taking effect July 1st) will crack down on the problem. In this blog post, a Florida criminal defense attorney explains the increased pressure on texting while driving.
History of Texting While Driving Laws
Florida approved a ban on texting and driving as a secondary offense in 2013, but this did little to curb drivers from texting and driving. In the past, Florida officers could only cite drivers for texting at the wheel if they were pulled over for another violation. As Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said, “It is almost impossible to enforce texting while driving as a secondary offense.”
However, the new law change is intended to crack down on texting-based distracted driving.
The New Law
Under the new law, texting while driving is now a primary traffic offense in Florida. This law change lets officers pull over drivers merely for texting while behind the wheel.
Punishments for texting while behind the wheel include:
- First offense — $30 fine;
- Second offense — $60 fine;
- Various court costs;
- Points added to drivers’ licenses.
Officers can pull people over for texting July 1st but can only give texting-related warnings at this time. Once the new year hits, Florida officers can write citations for those they pull over for texting while driving.