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Texting while driving bill headed to Governor’s desk

By Tami Stevenson

Texting while driving is currently only a secondary offense. Drivers must be pulled over for another reason in order to be cited for a texting violation but that is soon to change. With a 108-7 vote from the Florida Senate, Monday, a new bill (HB 107) is now sitting on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law and DeSantis has indicated he will sign the bill.

If signed into law, it will take effect on July 1, 2019 and become a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can pull motorists over if they see them texting while driving.

There is also new legislation in the bill that prohibits phone use of any kind except through a hands-free device, while in a school zone or active work zone, which will ultimately cause hands-free device sales to skyrocket.

According to the bill text, there will be a grace period until December 31, 2019, where law enforcement may stop motorists that are texting while driving, but for the purposes of informing and educating them. Effective January 1, 2020 citations will be issued.

Violators will have three points assessed on their license, along with a fine ranging roughly from $30 to $108, according to the Motor Vehicles Disposition Of Traffic Infractions.     

First time offenders may be able to participate in a wireless communications device driving safety program. Once completed, the penalties and associated costs may be waived by the clerk of court. The assessment of points may also be waived.

If Governor DeSantis signs HB 107, Florida would join 43 other states in making this a primary offense.