Texting and Driving becomes a primary offense today, July 1, 2019. With having a cellphone that can be as powerful as a computer, comes the dangers of always being connected to anything you need to know. The cellphone can text, search the internet, and let you visually talk to people through the camera. The inherent dangers are obvious for drivers. Drivers can be distracted by their devices, which can lead to serious or deadly consequences.

Think what you want, but AAA research shows people who text and driver are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported more than 51,000 crashes involving distracted drivers statewide last year. The number of traffic fatalities in Florida has topped 3,000 each year since 2016.

The new law advances Florida’s rule against texting while driving in a couple of ways. First, it makes texting (including messaging, emailing and other forms of typing on a mobile device) a primary violation, rather than a secondary violation. That means officers can stop you solely on suspicion of texting while driving. Next, it more broadly bans any use of a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in a designated school crossing or school zone or a road work zone. Hands-free uses remain legal.

Violations of the new law will carry a $30 (plus court costs), non-moving traffic violation (no points $113 fine) for a first offense. Second and subsequent moving violations within 5 years rise to a $60 fine (plus court costs) and a moving violation carrying 3 points ($163 fine) on your driver’s license. Insurance companies may take note of violations of the new law and raise your rates. Despite the new law being in effect as of July 1st, officers will issue warnings for the new law (a six-month education period) up until January 1st 2020, when traffic citations carrying these penalties will then be issued. The previously mentioned school zones and construction zones will begin a warning education period on October 1st 2019, with citations commencing along with the rest of the new law on January 1st.  ANY OFFENSE for not using a device hands-free in a school zone and work zone under section 316.306, Florida Statutes is a moving traffic violation, with a base $60 fine (plus court costs), and 3 points ($163 fine) assessed against the driver license.

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CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341