Drivers pay attention: FL’s new texting and driving law has a Part 2

Hands-free in school and work zones. Photo from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Drivers may not know that Florida’s new law on texting and driving, which launched July 1, has a second part.

Beginning Oct. 1, Florida motorists can be pulled over and issued a warning for holding a wireless device in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone, according to officials from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Highway Patrol.

But starting Jan. 1, 2020, there will be no more warnings. Drivers “can be issued a citation for not using a device in a hands-free manner in school and work zones,” according to a “frequently asked questions” document by the state agencies.

Just so you know: Here’s the definition of a handheld device:

A device “capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet or any communication service and that allows text communications. This includes a cell phone, tablet, laptop, two-way messaging device, or an electronic game that can be used in a handheld manner.”

The penalty for not complying will be “a base $60 fine — not including court costs and other fees, and 3 points assessed against the driver license,” officials say.

There are some exceptions to the law, such as if a motorist is reporting an emergency or criminal activity.

“The hands-free aspect of the law makes school zones, school crossings and active work zones safer across our state and gives law enforcement a strong tool to educate drivers,”  Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “Using a wireless device while driving is extremely dangerous, and all drivers should be focused on the road.”

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

1 COMMENT

  1. Not enough. The human brain requires levels of concentration when having a conversation. All that concentration is then diverted from the task of driving the car, a 4000 pound killing machine. Cell phone usage in any manner, IMO, needs to be banned while driving. Honestly, what’s so darn important it can’t wait?

    - Approved by marycornatzer

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