The rules of the road are changing, and we've got everything you need to know about operating your phone while driving in Florida. The recently-filed law, SB 79, makes clear the state's intention to curb the increasingly-dangerous behavior of operating a phone behind the wheel. When the state Senate convenes next year, here's how things are likely to change:
The Complete Guide to Florida’s SB 79: Texting while Driving
What are the punishments?The fine for texting and driving is currently around $20. Not that expensive, but it does come with points on your license. Texting while driving is also considered a secondary offense, meaning a state patrol or police officer cannot pull you over exclusively for texting. Speeding, expired plates, running red lights, or careless driving charges are likely to be paired with it. This is one important area that SB 79 comes down hard. Texting while driving will no longer be a secondary offense. That means that if you're seen driving with your phone out, police will now be able to pull you over. Points on your license can accrue very quickly for additional infractions, especially with how frequently we use our phones in our daily lives. The law is deliberately written with very broad language. If you are using your phone for any reason other than the ones listed below, you are likely to be pulled over!
What are the exceptions?SB 79 does include exceptions when using your phone is acceptable. You should not be given a ticket if you are:
- Reporting an emergency, criminal, or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.
- Receiving messages that are:
- Related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle (such as receiving directions);
- Safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts;
- Data used primarily by the motor vehicle; or
- Radio broadcasts.