• Gov. DeSantis signs bill to make texting while driving primary offense in Florida

    By: Kelly Healey

    Updated:

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Texting while driving in Florida will become a primary traffic offense punishable by fines under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

    DeSantis signed the bill Friday in Sarasota. Under current law, officers can only cite drivers for texting if they are pulled over for another violation.

    “Throughout our state, we’ve seen far too many accidents where passengers are killed or severely injured as a result of distracted drivers,” said DeSantis. “This bill gives law enforcement the ability to better enforce distractions behind the wheel."

    Read: 5 questions about Florida's texting while driving bill

    The new law allows officers to stop motorists simply for texting alone.

    A first offense is punishable by a $30 fine, with a second costing $60. Court costs and fees also would apply.

    The law takes effect July 1 when drivers will be ticketed. However, an exception to that applies to the school/work zone portion of the law where drivers cannot get a ticket for failure to use hands-free devices in those areas until January 1, which is when officers can begin writing citations.

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    “We cannot prevent all accidents on our roadways, but it is our hope that by taking action to address distractions today, we might be able to prevent a tragedy tomorrow,” DeSantis said.

    The texting ban does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system, or to a driver whose vehicle is stationary.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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