10 Things to Know About Florida’s Texting Law
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,166 people were killed because of distracted driving in 2017.  Furthermore, the National Safety Council notes that driving while using cell phones causes 1.6 million crashes annually.
Distracted driving is dangerous: it puts everyone in the car and on the road at risk. Moreover, of the three types of distractions below, texting and driving involves all three — visual, cognitive and manual distraction. 
Until July of 2019, the state of Florida had softer regulations against texting and driving. Officers were only allowed to cite a motorist for texting and driving as a secondary offense, meaning that they could cite them only after pulling the motorist over for a separate infraction.
This past May, the state of Florida joined most of the other states in the country making texting while driving a primary traffic offense when Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill. On July 1, 2019, this new law against texting and driving went into effect. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) kicked off the new laws with a campaign called “Put it Down: Focus on Driving.” The regulations had two phases:
- Beginning July 1, 2019, Florida motorists can be stopped and cited for texting and driving. In other words, don’t type, text, email, use social media, or read any type of message while driving. According to the FLHSMV, “The first violation for drivers is a non-moving offense with no points assessed to the driver’s record. The second violation is a moving violation with three points assessed to the driver’s record.” Warnings will generally be issued through December 31, 2019, to provide awareness and education for the new law.
- Starting October 1, 2019, Florida drivers must refrain from any cell phone use while driving in school zones, work zones, or school crossings – unless they use hands-free technology. In other words, drivers can be pulled over if they are holding and talking on their cellphones in those specified areas. Similar to the first part of the law that went into effect in July, most violations will receive warnings through December 31, 2019.
Commencing January 1, 2020, Florida motorists will be issued tickets for either of these violations with the following penalties:
- A first offense of driving and texting will be issued a base fine of $30 and 0 points against the driver’s license. A second offense within 5 years will include a base fee of $60 plus 3 points against the driver’s license. In either offense, motorists may be assessed court fees and other costs.
- A first offense of cell phone use in school or work zones will result in a base fine of $60 and 3 points assessed against the driver’s license.
Of course, these consequences assume that there is no other infraction of the law other than texting and driving. To learn more, follow #PutItDown and #FocusOnDrivingFL on social media or visit flhsmv.gov/focusondriving.
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 Distracted driving National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
 Florida Highway Safety Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/distracted-driving/