We can probably all agree that Monday is not the most popular day of the week. For the majority of us, Monday represents the end of the freedom of the weekend and the day when we return to structured environment of our workplaces. A recent Monday here in the Sunshine State represented much more than a simple return to work, however. As of Monday July 1, 2019, there is now a new texting while driving law in place in the state of Florida that you need to know about the next time that you hit the road.
What is the New Law?
Notably, Florida’s previous texting while driving statute allowed law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue texting while driving citations only as a secondary offense. In other words, you could only obtain a ticket for texting and driving prior to the new law if authorities had some other reason to pull you over. Now, the same behavior is designated a primary offense, meaning that a driver can now be pulled over and cited solely for texting and driving. This simple change is an important distinction.
A first offense is reportedly punishable by a $30 fine, with a second costing $60 and three points added to your license. You should also be aware of the court costs and fees that would apply, and the fact that while some agencies may opt for warnings at first, as of July 1st, they can legally issue citations.
How can Drivers Avoid a Violation of the New Texting While Driving Law?
The Ocala StarBanner recently reported that one of its own reporters has already dealt with the new texting while driving law firsthand. The reporter recalled his own account of being tempted to retrieve his phone and answer a call when his phone buzzed in his pocket the Friday morning before the law went into effect as he drove to the newsroom. He contemplated the possibility of a family member having been injured, having had a vehicle breakdown — or worse. However, he ultimately waited until he reached the Star-Banner parking lot which was relatively close and, fortunately, everything was fine. He openly expressed that had the new law not been in place, he would have operated very differently.
Going forward, we should all adjust our behavior to ensure that we comply with the new law. In addition to actual violations of the new law, you should also avoid behavior that would give the appearance of you doing so and could still get you pulled over. Ensure that you:
- Use as many hands free features as possible while driving
- Allow your passengers to change the radio station
- Program your destination into your navigation before taking off
- Keep both hands on the wheel and your eyes focused on the road
- Do not text and drive
Are You Facing a Traffic Infraction or Other Criminal Charges?
Making a mistake does not change the fact that you may have had good intentions when checking your phone. If you are confused, frustrated, and facing the consequences of being cited for a violation of Florida’s new ban on texting and driving or other criminal charges, you need the help of an experienced legal team that has adjusted to many changing laws over the past several decades. The experienced Ocala criminal defense attorneys of Alavi & Pozzuto have over 75 years of combined legal experience in Federal and Florida Criminal Law. You can depend on us for help whether you are facing a simple traffic infraction or more serious criminal charges that may significantly impact your life. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.