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Thomas DeLattre and Glen D. Wieland

New Florida Texting and Driving Law

On Behalf of | May 8, 2019 | Distracted Driving, Motor Vehicle Accidents |

A new Texting and Driving Law has passed the Florida Legislature and is on its way tothe Governor who is expected to sign it into law. The new law amends Section 316.305, Florida Statutes making it a primary offense allowing law enforcement to pull you over and write you acitation for using a “wireless communication device” in a hand-held manner while driving. It will go into effect July 1, 2019.

The legislature also amended Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, regarding the use of”wireless communication devices” in school and work zones making it a primary offense with acurrent fine of $165 and 3 points on your license. This law goes into effect on October 1, 2019and from October 1, 2019 to January 1,2019 only warnings will be issued under this section.

If you manually type multiple characters you are in violation!

When it does not apply

If you are reporting any criminal or suspicious activity.
If you are receiving navigation information, traffic, safety, or weather information. Yourphone would have to be set to receive automatic notifications for that to apply.
If you are using your phone for navigation purposes.
If you are receiving radio broadcasts. This may include satellite radio.
If you are using the phone with voice activation and are not holding the phone.
If you are driving your vehicle in autonomous mode. ( So you can text away if your car is driving itself, but this can create significant liability issues)

You have the right to refuse to allow the law enforcement officer to examine your phone. Law enforcement cannot examine your phone without a warrant. I do not know of any reason why you would want to let a law enforcement officer examine your phone under any circumstances. The officer is not allowed to confiscate your phone.

The first time you receive a citation for a violation in a school or work zone, you can show the clerk of court that you purchased blue tooth equipment and the citation will be dismissed but you may still have to pay court costs.

So if you are using your phone with any navigation program, you are not in violation but it may look like you are texting and driving and may be pulled over. You do not have to show the officer the navigation program but you could have the navigation program open on your phone when the officer approaches your vehicle. I again would not hand over my phone to the officer to examine it. You can advise the officer that you were using the navigationprogram or one of the exclusions listed above without turning over your phone for examination by the officer.

This law applies to any wireless communication device, phones, laptops, Ipads, hand-heldgame devices, etc.

As part of this law, the law enforcement officers are required to report the race and ethnicity of the driver and must maintain and report that information to the state who will compile the information statewide and present the data to the Governor and the Legislature.

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