May 27th, 2019 (last updated)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Texting while driving in Florida will become a primary traffic offense punishable by fines under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis signed the bill Friday in Sarasota. Under current law, officers can only cite drivers for texting if they are pulled over for another violation. The new law allows officers to stop motorists simply for texting alone.
A first offense is punishable by a $30 fine, with a second costing $60. Court costs and fees also would apply. The law takes effect July 1, but only warnings will be given until January, when officers can begin writing citations.
The texting ban does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system or to a driver whose vehicle is stationary.
After DeSantis signed the bill, the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Terry L. Rhodes, issued the following statement:
“Using wireless communication devices while driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors as it takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off driving. The Wireless Communications While Driving Law will undoubtedly make the state’s roadways safer and I applaud the Governor and Legislature for their dedication to this effort.
The department also sincerely appreciates the efforts of our law enforcement partners, the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association, for their assistance in bringing this initiative to fruition.
Through educational campaigns and Florida Highway Patrol enforcement in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, this law will enhance all of our missions to prevent crashes, reduce injuries and fatalities, and improve road safety for all road users.”