Q. What are the facts surrounding the new texting while driving law?
A. Florida’s ban against texting while driving went into full effect statewide on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. There had been a period where only warnings were being issued. Previously, texting behind the wheel was a secondary offense, meaning drivers could only be cited for the violation if pulled over for some other reason. Now, the new law makes texting while driving a primary offense, and drivers can be cited just for texting while driving while the car is in motion.
In Franklin County, drivers caught texting behind the wheel will be fined $108 for a first offense. A second or subsequent offense within five years will result in a moving violation with a fine of $158.
If the violation occurs in a school or work zone, the fine will be $158 for a first offense and drivers shall have three points assessed against their driver’s license. For the first offense for this, in lieu of the penalty and points, a driver may elect to participate in a wireless communications device driving safety program approved by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and upon completion, the penalty and costs may be waived by the clerk, and the points must be waived. The clerk may dismiss a case and assess court costs of $18 for a first offense for this, if the person shows proof of purchase of equipment that enables their personal wireless communications device to be used in a hands-free manner.
If you have any questions or comments about this column, please forward them to: Marcia Johnson, Clerk of the Court, 33 Market St., Suite 203, Apalachicola, FL 32320 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the clerk’s website at www.franklinclerk.com.