Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new bill into law on April 26, 2019, involving texting and driving. This new bill has many repercussions for infringing drivers.
Originally, the law cited texting and driving as a secondary offense. This means that law enforcement would require another primary reason to pull over a driver who’s texting—like speeding or running a stop sign—and only then could the law enforcement official inflict a citation for texting and driving.
For the time being, the bill to ban texting while driving is still with the Senate. This is due to amendments that have been recently added to the bill. Should this amended bill pass, it would take effect on January 1, 2020. Until then, officers are only allowed to give verbal and written warnings should they catch a driver on his or her phone while driving.
Senate Bill 76
This amended bill, Senate Bill 76, focuses on the offenders of texting and driving. Laws restricting texting while driving have been in effect for some time, but the new bill encourages tougher penalties for offenders.
Based on this new bill, texting would become a primary offense, allowing police to ticket the offender. There are also amendments in the process that would allow for anyone caught talking on a handheld device in a school or construction zone to be ticketed. This means that any driver must use a hands-free device in their vehicle—or no device at all. Failure to do so would be grounds for a citation.
The new rules that would take effect with Senate Bill 76 could also mean more fines for drivers. A first offense of texting while driving would be a $30 fine and a second offense would be $60. These numbers do not include court costs and fees.
While the amendments focusing on handheld devices are still with the Senate, the texting portion of Senate Bill 76 is set to go into effect on July 1, 2019. This ban does not, however, apply to navigation systems or stationary vehicles. According to the ruling, law enforcement officers are still allowed to offer only warnings until the new amendments are added in January.
Drivers in Fort Lauderdale who fall victim to a driver who is texting while driving should be aware of their rights. Contact the professionals at Ginnis & Krathen, P.A. today for a no-obligation consultation. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through your options towards recovery.
Legislation is current as of June 9, 2019