Texting and driving is dangerous and beginning Monday in Florida, you could be ticketed if you are caught.
Last month Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 107 into law. It will make texting and driving a primary offense and gives an officer who sees you doing it the authority to pull you over and write a citation. However, enforcement may be difficult.
In order to prove you were texting behind the wheel, the officer must look at your phone. But before that, the officer must inform you of your rights to refuse.
In fact, the law states, “A law enforcement officer who stops a motor vehicle for a violation of paragraph (a) must inform the motor vehicle operator of his or her right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device and may not access the wireless communications device without a warrant.”
The St. Petersburg Police Department says that could make enforcement difficult. Spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez says, “You never know who might do that (hand over their phone). I just know in most cases people are going to wise up to this, and they’re just going to say, 'No, I don’t wanna give you my phone.'”
There are some exceptions. You can use your phone for GPS or to communicate an emergency situation. You can also use your phone hands-free. The law does not apply to situations when your car is stopped, like at a red light or stop sign.
The Martin County Sheriff says an education period will take place first before officers begin writing tickets.
Beginning Oct. 1, another portion of the law will go into place that bans handheld phone use in school zones and active work zones. Officers will give warnings for this portion of the law from Oct. 1 through the rest of the year and then begin writing tickets on Jan. 1, 2020.
A first violation will cost $30 plus other court and associated fees.
Howver, the Boynton Beach Police Department tweeted that the moving violation carries a $166 fine and three points on your license.
Aside from banning texting and driving in Florida, the bill will also make school zones and active work zones hands-free areas.
Starting Monday, an officer can stop your car for texting and driving. In October, the use of handheld devices will be prohibited in school and work zones.— Boynton Beach Police (@BBPD) June 26, 2019
We encourage you to go hands-free. Put your phone down and just drive. #putitdown #arrivealive pic.twitter.com/Fl6cMxl820