Florida’s Texting While Driving Laws
Florida is one of the last states in the country to implement texting while driving laws. In 2017, the Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida was the second-worst state for distracted driving. In 2016, Florida’s department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that Florida had nearly 50,000 auto accidents caused by distracted driving, resulting in more than 3,500 injuries and 233 deaths.
In, July 2019, Florida House Bill 107 became law making texting while driving a primary offense. Now, local law enforcement can legally stop a driver who is texting and driving and issue them a citation.
While established to save lives, it could be difficult to enforce the new law. The law states “A law enforcement officer who stops a motor vehicle for a violation of paragraph (a) must inform the motor vehicle operator of his or her right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device and may not access the wireless communications device without a warrant.” In addition, motorists can use their phone for GPS or to communicate in emergency situations.
Vehicle drivers are allowed to use hands-free phones and they can use their phones when stopped at stop signs or red lights. However, starting October 1, 2019, another part of the law goes into effect which bans all hand-held phone usage in school zones or active work zones (construction zones). The many parents who lost their children to texting accidents fought hard to get this law passed in Florida. These parents ask that drivers put their phones away while driving. Focus on safe driving and save the texting until you reach your destination.