Written by Meghan M. Bensted, Esquire
Texting while driving is now illegal in Florida. However, the distracted drivers won’t disappear as talking on your cell phone is still legal in Florida.
On May 28, 2013, Governor Rick Scott passed the Senate Bill 52, which he said would make the state’s roads safer. In his statement, he stated, “As a father and grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me and my loved ones are on the road.” [sic] So what does this mean for you?
Florida has become the 40th state to outlaw texting while driving. The bill, SB 52, creates the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” which makes texting while driving a secondary offense.
The new law will ban operating a motor vehicle “while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing and instant messaging.”
The ban allows texting while stopped at a red light. It includes tablets and computers, but excludes using a “text-to-talk” feature.
The first violation is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a fine of $30 plus court cost that vary by county. A second or subsequent violation committed within 5 years after the first is a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs.
The bill allows for the admissibility of a person’s wireless communications device billing records or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages as evidence in the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury.
In addition to the fines, a violation of the unlawful use of a cell phone which results in a crash will result in 6 points added to the offender’s driver’s license record and the unlawful use of the cell phone while committing a moving violation within a school safety zone will result in 2 points added to the offenders license record in addition to points for the moving violations.
These provisions take effect October 1, 2013.