On July 1st, texting while driving will officially become a primary traffic offense in Florida. But what does that mean?
Under current Florida law, officers can give drivers a citation for texting while operating a motor vehicle in conjunction with an unrelated violation. Hence, as a secondary violation, officers are not authorized to stop a vehicle solely on the suspicion of texting and driving.
However, on July 1st, the new law provides that officers hold the authority to stop motorists for texting and driving alone, without the need for a secondary offense. And this time, texting and driving will be deemed a more serious primary traffic offense.
Police Fines For Distracted Driving After July 1st
Although the fines remain the same whereby a driver’s first offense is punishable by a $30 fine and a second violation within five years is punishable by a $60 fine, 3 points will now be added to the operator’s driver’s license as a moving violation. Although the law takes effect on July 1, officers will provide drivers with warnings until January. Thereafter, the moving violation points take effect.
The new law makes exceptions for various situations such as texting at a stoplight or while the vehicle is stationary (such as in high traffic situations). Further, the new law makes exceptions for emergency situations, reporting an emergency and emergency personnel.
Nevertheless, in light of the overwhelming research that shows operating a motor vehicle while texting yields advanced probabilities of endangering lives, Florida is one of the last to join the vast majority of states declaring texting while driving a primary traffic offense.
See also: How to Drive Safely in Any Circumstance