It’s too noisy; It’s annoying to connect; I cannot hear the other person on the phone; etc. These are just a few reasons why many people avoid using the Bluetooth system in their cars. And, back when Chrysler introduced the first version of Bluetooth into its automobiles for the 2000 model year, this was reasonable. But fast-forward almost 20 years and the ailments of this futuristic technology are all but gone. This, for all Floridan’s, is a good thing because as of October 1, 2019, certain portions of roadways in Florida became a hands-free zone.
Back in July of 2019, as highlighted in our earlier blog article found here, texting while driving became a primary offense. Now, still playing catchup with a majority of the country, the Legislature has decided to make school zones and constructions zones hand-held phone-free zones. While the law as enacted in July made no mention about phone-free zones (as it has exceptions for being stopped at a stoplight/in traffic, gps, etc.), as of October 1, 2019, that has all changed. Thus, in active work zones, at designated school crossings, and in school zones, it is now illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. It is clear that the Legislature wants these areas to be completely hands-free because unlike the texting while driving portion of the law that went into effect in July 2019, the hands-free communication portion does not allow you to hold a phone and use the GPS.
Like most new traffic laws, law enforcement is more about education when the law is enacted. To that end, between now and December 31, 2019, the Legislature has recommended and allowed law enforcement officers to issue verbal and/or written warnings in lieu of tickets. However, on January 1, 2020, those warnings will turn into 3 points on your license and a fine. For your first ticket, you can show the Clerk of the Court that you purchased equipment that enables you to use your cell phone in a hands-free manner. However, after your first ticket, get ready for points on your license.
So, all of the complaints we have had in the past about Bluetooth seem minuscule in comparison to the ticket and the points on our drivers’ licenses (which also comes with increased auto insurance costs). Thus, it is probably time to succumb to the technology and pair our phones to our cars. And if your user manual isn’t dry enough to put you to sleep tonight trying to figure out how to pair your phone to your car, you can always count on the Florida Statues to do the trick. The full law is available here for your napping pleasure: Florida Statute § 316.306.