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Florida's new texting and driving law in effect, what you need to know

Posted at 8:02 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 07:28:21-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Plenty of laws going into effect Monday, July 1st, and before you touch that phone while you’re driving you should know the police are keeping a close eye on people texting and driving.

Let's face it, a lot of people are guilty of it sometimes, right?

"I used to do it, I admit it, but I stopped doing it," Teresa Fry, who lives in Cape Coral.

"Sometimes I do, but it’s usually a glance then I put the phone down," said 22 year old, Ricky Valazquez.

Remember when law enforcement needed to see you speed or commit any other traffic violation before they could cite you for texting? Those days are long gone, now it’s a little different, police are cracking down texting and driving.

Cape Coral Police say you can not have your hands on a phone at all in school zones, work zones and crosswalks. "When you’re going through either of these zones you have the opportunity for someone to hey out in front of you and just freeze," said Public Affairs Officer, Patrick O'Grady.

So that means no snap chatting, texting, or checking emails. In the next few months if the police catch you it’s a $30 base fine and if they catch you a second time within five years it’s a $60 fine and three points on your license.

"All it takes is a second before, God forbid, you to hit somebody or you know, worse," said Velasquez.

But there are are some things you can do. Police say when you’re at a red light you can text, and you can even talk on the phone while you’re driving, but how do these laws compare to other states?

There are more than 15 states that have a hands free law, meaning you can’t touch your phone no matter where you are. States like Iowa, are pushing for hands-free because they believe it’ll save more lives. But state troopers say until the hands-free law is passed, that'll really make the difference.

Cape Police say there were 51,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida last year. Something they want people to think about before they pick up their phones.