On May 28th, Governor Rick Scott signed into law SB 52, making texting and driving a punishable offense on Florida roads. The bill strictly prohibits reading electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. However, drivers may still view navigational devices, electronic maps, or safety alerts – such as those regarding weather – without fear of penalty. Drivers are also permitted to text while the vehicle is stopped, such as at a traffic light or during traffic. Also, talking on a wireless device while driving is still legal.
Texting and driving in Florida is a “secondary offense,” meaning officers must pull someone over for another infraction – such as careless driving or speeding – before including a texting while driving charge. However, an amendment to the bill by the Florida House prohibits using phone records as evidence against a driver, unless the ticket was issued from a crash resulting in personal injury or death. The penalty is a $30 fine plus court costs, rising to $60 for the second offense. The law goes into effect October 1st of this year. Florida is the 41st state in the nation to ratify a texting ban to all drivers.
For more information, visit the Florida Legislature’s Online Sunshine.