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New Florida law makes texting while driving primary offense

Posted: 11:05 AM, May 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-17 18:42:43Z
Gov. DeSantis expected to sign bill banning texting and driving in Florida
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Texting while driving in Florida will become a primary traffic offense punishable by fines under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis signed the bill Friday in Sarasota. Under current law, officers can only cite drivers for texting if they are pulled over for another violation. The new law allows officers to stop motorists simply for texting alone.

A first offense is punishable by a $30 fine, with a second costing $60. Court costs and fees also would apply. The law takes effect July 1, but only warnings will be given until January, when officers can begin writing citations.

The texting ban does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system or to a driver whose vehicle is stationary.

Additionally, the bill specifies that a person may not use a handheld wireless communications device while driving in a designated sensitive area such as a school crossing, school zone, or work zone area while workers are present or operating equipment.

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“Throughout our state, we’ve seen far too many accidents where passengers are killed or severely injured as a result of distracted drivers,” said Governor DeSantis. “This bill gives law enforcement the ability to better enforce distractions behind the wheel. We cannot prevent all accidents on our roadways, but it is our hope that by taking action to address distractions today, we might be able to prevent a tragedy tomorrow.”

“We have a responsibility to all Floridians to limit distractions that cause tragedies on our roads,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “This bill is about protecting our residents and preventing as many accidents as possible through smart enforcement and I’m proud to stand with the Governor in this effort.”