News | October 8th, 2019

Texting and Driving Law Reaches Florida

By: James Thomas
Texting and Driving Law Reaches Florida

Don’t be so quick to reply to that text while driving! Florida’s new law has something to say about texting and driving.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allows law enforcement officers to pull over drivers that are texting while the vehicle is in motion. There were nearly 50,000 crashes in the Florida due to distracted driving. Of the near 50,000 crashes, 233 of them were fatal. Florida is one of the last states to instill this law. 

“The only way this will improve the safety on the road, is if we are writing tickets,” Lt. Kristi Cobb of the Midway Police Department says. “We have to crack down on it.”

Cobb believes this is specifically for the younger generation due to their high usage rate of their cellular devices. She admits to not seeing a big difference now, but she knows it is the best solution for the problem.

The law went into effect in July. There has been 438 warnings and 542 citations. With this being a new law, most believe those numbers will rise. 

With this being the transition period, no matter how many warnings you get, they will never count against your driving record. The point of the written warnings is to help people adjust to a new law.

The law is meant to make the roads safer. There is no law saying a driver cannot talk on the phone while driving. It’s meant to keep the driver’s eyes on the road. Drivers are still able to use their phones for music and for directions. When using the phone as a GPS, it is best if you use the verbal feature to receive the directions.

“I’ve already received a warning,” said Precious Charlton, a student at Florida A&M University. “I just don’t know how far this new law will go. There is no way you can really tell if someone’s texting.”

It is up to the officer to determine if the driver is typing on their phone. 

“I was in a fender bender because I was texting and driving, so I understand the point of the law,” said Florida State University student Jimmy Christopher. “I just want to know where we go from here.”

Christopher believes these laws will go beyond phone related violations. Things such as eating and other multi-tasking duties may eventually be placed under this law.

This is not the final step for the state of Florida when it comes to safety on the road.

Starting in October, a new law will be enforced that says that any handheld device in your hand while in a school zone or construction site will result in a warning. Both laws are in effect through Dec. After Jan 1, the first offense is a $30 fine that results in no points on your license. The second offense within five years is a $60 fine and places three points on your license.