Texting and Driving a Primary Offense Started July 1

Florida motorists can be stopped and cited for texting and driving. ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is leading Florida’s Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign to ensure all motorists are aware of the state’s new regulations regarding wireless communications while driving and reminding everyone to never drive distracted. In conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriff’s Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and AAA – The Auto Club Group, FLHSMV with its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) advises all motorists that beginning July 1, utilizing wireless communications while driving becomes a primary driving offense.

“This law makes Florida roads safer and I am proud to give law enforcement the ability to more proactively enforce safe driving,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors and it is every driver’s responsibility to help ensure we all get home safely.”

“Distracted driving puts us all at risk on the road,” said Senator Wilton Simpson. “Put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. There is no message worth a life.”

“There have been too many families impacted by the dangers of texting and driving,” said Representative Jackie Toledo. “Whether we are drivers, passengers, students on the way to school, construction workers on the road or law enforcement, this law protects us all.”

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing someone due to an act so preventable as distracted driving,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “I am confident this law will save the lives of Floridians and visitors on our roadways and have a lasting positive impact on the future of highway safety in our state.”

“This new law will undoubtedly prevent crashes and save lives on Florida’s roadways,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “With every traffic stop, FHP will be educating motorists about the new law and taking the time to remind them of the dangers of driving distracted. We never want a driver to learn the hard way.”

“This law is a critical step in providing a safe transportation system for all of Florida’s road users,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “As mobile devices continue their prevalence in our daily lives, it is as important as ever to remember to drive distraction-free. We must all do our part to protect ourselves and others on the road.”

“Distracted driving is truly a killer. Enforcing the crime of texting while driving as a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense, will now allow law enforcement to enforce the law and save lives in the process,” said Sheriff Mark Hunter, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.

“The Florida Police Chiefs Association wants to remind every motor vehicle operator in Florida — don’t text and drive,” said Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Help us better protect the communities we serve by keeping both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. That’s common sense, and now it’s also the law.”

“Drivers who text and drive are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The only way to ensure you are driving as safely as possible is to always keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the task of driving.”

Starting July 1, 2019, Florida motorists can be stopped and cited for texting and driving. The first violation for drivers is a non-moving offense with no points assessed to the driver’s record. The second violation is a moving violation with three points assessed to the driver’s record. In most circumstances, Florida Highway Patrol Troopers will issue warnings for texting and driving through December 31, 2019, to provide drivers with additional education of the new law. Exceptions would apply in extremely dangerous driving situations.

Starting October 1, 2019, wireless communications devices can only be used in a hands-free manner when driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area. Drivers will be issued warnings through December 31, 2019. Starting January 1, 2019, drivers will be cited for using any wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in a work zone or school zone.

FLHSMV, along with FDOT, statewide law enforcement and other highway safety partners, will be conducting a statewide Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign, to raise awareness of and encourage compliance with the Wireless Communications While Driving Law. You can follow the campaign on social media with the hashtags #PutItDown and #FocusOnDrivingFL.

Driving distracted can not only hurt you and your passengers but puts everyone on the road in danger. Many things can create distractions while driving. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reminds drivers to put it down and focus on driving.

Visit flhsmv.gov/focusondriving for additional resources and information.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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