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The risk of being involved in an auto accident in Florida is already higher during the summer as more people are on the road traveling. Texting while driving is certainly a contributing factor to these auto crashes. To combat the rising number of car accidents and fatalities resulting from phone use in the car, Florida officials have signed a new law that will go into effect July 1.

From Secondary to Primary Offense  

It was already illegal to text and drive in Florida, but typing on a mobile device while operating a vehicle was a secondary offense in the Sunshine State. That means a police officer had to pull you over for another violation before ticketing you for texting while driving. Starting in July, cops can exclusively pull you over if they suspect you’ve been texting while driving. 

Expect a Grace Period

While the law officially goes into effect in July, officers are expected to only be issuing warnings during the last half of 2019. Cops will begin writing official citations for the offense starting in 2020.

Hitting You in the Wallet

While getting caught texting and driving won’t be as costly as other offenses like speeding in a school zone, violators will still be fined. The first offense will be punishable by a $30 fine, with the second costing $60. This does not include associated court costs that are likely to apply. Violators also run the risk of having up to three points added to their licenses.

Using Navigation While Driving

The law will not penalize drivers who receive messages from navigation applications, like Google Maps.  

Texting at a Stoplight

The law will not apply to drivers texting while their vehicle is stationary. This means texting at a stoplight or stop sign is not an offense. Although, we recommend always being aware of your surroundings while behind the wheel, even if your car or truck isn’t moving.

Other Considerations

While this law primarily aims to reduce texting and driving, it will also penalize drivers using handheld devices around schools or construction zones in Florida.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, which includes texting behind the wheel, is one of the leading causes of vehicular fatalities in the United States, contributing to nine deaths and more than 1,000 injuries daily, according to a recent study by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you have been in an auto accident because another person was texting and driving in Florida, or because of another form of negligence, contact the tenacious attorneys at Matthews Injury Law by calling 813-530-1000 or 941-877-5800. You can also choose a time that fits your schedule and set up a free consultation by clicking here . One of our attorneys will be in touch shortly after you schedule your appointment.