The law was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis May 17. Until the signing, texting while driving had been a secondary offense, which law officers could cite a driver for only after having stopping them for a primary offense; for example, a moving violation.
Onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Safety & Occupational Health Specialist Jane Bush of the NAS Pensacola Safety Office is pleased with the law's passage.
"Florida became the 41st state to ban texting while driving," she said. "Finally, Florida has enacted this overdue response to texting and driving, and hopefully we will begin to see the effects in the near future."
Texting and cellphone use while driving onboard NAS Pensacola is and has been legally regulated for some time. Base legal instructions state:
"(1) Driver use of a hand-held cellular phone in a moving vehicle is
hereby prohibited. Anyone convicted of driving while using a cellular phone without a hands-free device is subject to a mandatory one-week suspension of driving privileges as provided .
"(2) The prohibition against using hand-held cellular phones does not include hands-free cellular phone devices. Hands-free devices include consoled/dash-mounted or otherwise secured cellular phones with integrated features such as voice-activation, speed dial, speakerphone or other similar technology for sending and receiving calls."
The new state law does take effect July 19, but law enforcement officials will be issuing warnings until Jan. 1, 2020 until then, citations. The law also bans the use of "handheld wireless communication devices" in school zones and construction zones, except for emergencies.
A first offense will cost the driver $30 and court fees; it climbs to $60, court fees and three points on the driver's license for a second offense.
The new legal statue may be read at www.leg.state.fl.us/statues; #316.305.