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Florida texting-driving law -10 questions and answers you should know ☘ Hoey Team ☘ eXp Realty
Dated: July 3 2019
Before you decide to reach for that cellphone while zooming along Interstate 95, perhaps you'd better know the new Florida laws.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that will allow law enforcement officers to pull over drivers who are texting and driving, making the action a primary offense. The new law goes into effect July 1.
Florida is among the last few states to implement such a law.
DeSantis said that in 2016, Florida had nearly 50,000 accidents caused by distracted driving, resulting in 233 deaths.
The ban on hand-held use in school zones and construction zones can be enforced starting Oct. 1, with an education period of warnings for all violations until Jan. 1.
FLORIDA TODAY asked Lt. Kim Montes, the Florida Highway Patrol's public affairs officer for Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties, 10 questions you might need the answers to.
1. First of all, how many warnings can I accumulate during the transition period, and do these count against my record?
Answer: If a driver is issued a warning for texting and driving, it never counts against your driving record, no matter how many warnings you receive.
2. Can I hold the phone to talk while driving? Does this ONLY apply to a school zone or marked construction zone?
Answer: Drivers are allowed to hold the phone to talk while driving (although it is not recommended). The only exception is that starting Oct. 1, a driver cannot hold a wireless device in their hands if they are in a school zone or an active work zone with workers present.
3. Can I reach over to tap the button to answer a phone?
Answer: You are allowed to answer the phone (but in school zones or construction zones, you can just tap the phone and not physically hold the phone in your hands (see exemption in No. 2). Our recommendation is bluetooth or a hands-free device. Remember, if you use a hands-free device, you must have at least one ear without an ear bud in the ear.
4. Can I text while at a stoplight or toll booth?
Answer: Police officers can only stop a driver for texting and driving when the car is in motion. Officers cannot stop someone seen texting at a stop light or toll booth.
However, a driver could be cited for impeding the flow of traffic if they are required to be in motion and are distracted by their phone. Again, FHP recommends drivers wait to reach their destination before texting.
5. Do Uber drivers or pizza delivery drivers looking for addresses get special dispensation?
Answer: The law allows any driver to utilize their phone or other devices to track GPS directions. We recommend a driver type in the address to the device before they start their trip and use the verbal feature on their phone to get directions.
6. How does law enforcement feel about using your phone as a video camera while driving (it's not texting)?
Answer: While law enforcement has used other driver’s videos as evidence, we recommend another passenger in the vehicle use it while it is recording. Get a stand or get a camera for the vehicle. Holding the phone and attempting to record while you are driving is a distraction.
7. Can I tap my phone to Google something or connect to a Google map or Waze app (again, it's not texting)?
Answer: Yes, using the map or Waze app is not against the law.
8. Can I eat a burger, drink my iced coffee or do my makeup without a penalty?
Answer: There is no law in Florida that will allow an officer to pull over a driver for specifically eating, drinking or putting on makeup and issue a ticket simply for doing those activities.
However, if that distraction causes the driver to commit a traffic infraction, than a police officer can conduct a traffic stop and take enforcement action.
9. What happens after Jan. 1?
Answer: The first offense is a non-moving traffic violation (no points) and a $30 fine.
The second and subsequent offenses within 5 years is a moving violation (3 points) and a $60 fine. Remember, the fine is per state statute; it does not include court costs or other fees imposed by the clerk of court.
10. How will police prove you were texting? Will they confiscate your phone if a ticket is written?
Answer: Police are not allowed to ask for or take a driver’s phone to see if they were texting on a traffic stop. Officers are trained to identify and articulate when a driver is typing into a wireless device. Remember, we have already been enforcing this law since 2013.
According to Montes, FHP troopers will be issuing warnings for the primary law and the hands-free law Oct. 1 until Dec. 31.
The FHP also will be conducting education through driver contact, social media and other public service announcements.
article from Florida Today
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