No more warnings: Using phone while driving in Florida now results in tickets

Florida’s hands-free driving law is ramping up.

As of New Year’s Day, anyone caught holding a phone while driving will be issued a ticket.

The law went into effect in July but drivers were only issued warnings. Now, those tickets come with a price.

“As soon as they see the phone in your hand, they’re not just going to pull you over, they’re going to observe the person typing into the device,” said Lt. Kim Montes.

Montes said it is easier at night when screens cast a glow.

Troopers can often even see what’s on the screen.

Using a GPS program or accessing safety information doesn’t violate the law, but emailing, using social media and texting does.

If you are stopped, officers may even ask to see your phone.

The law says you do not have to hand your phone over, and officers are required to tell you that.

Montes said if you don’t hand it over, troopers’ observations have held up in court.

Troopers recommend using Bluetooth or other hands-free technology like Android Auto or Apple Car Play.

The minimum fine is $30, but it doubles if you’re caught holding your phone while driving in a school or construction zone. A second violation within five years years carries a $60 fine, and adds three points to your license.