House Bill 107 went into effect last year, but law enforcement officers provided a “grace period” for Florida residents as they adapted to the new legislation. Those texting while driving, or even holding an electronic device while in a school or work zone, might have received a warning from July 1 through Dec. 30, but as of January 1, 2020, they will face more tangible consequences.
Any driver caught texting while driving will be issued a $30 fine and have to cover court fees. If it is their second offense, they will be issued a $60 fine, be responsible for court fees, and receive 3 points against their driving record. Every subsequent violation will result in another $60 fine, more court fees, and 3 additional points against their record.
Infractions that occur in work zones or school crossings will immediately result in a $60 fine, court fees, and 3 points against the driver’s record. Under HB 107, drivers may not have their phones in their hands for any non-emergency reason while driving through school zones or active work zones. This includes typing an address into a GPS or setting up an otherwise hands-free call.
Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida since 2013 but was considered a secondary offense until the introduction of HB 107 in 2019. This means officers could only cite drivers for texting if they pulled them over for another reason, like speeding or running a stop sign.
The first part of HB 107 went into effect on July 1, 2019, and made texting while driving a primary offense, which means officers had permission to pull drivers over for texting alone. Nevertheless, until Jan. 1, 2020, officers were encouraged to issue warnings. During this period, the Florida Highway Patrol says it gave out 1,087 warnings, which demonstrates the necessity of the new law.
For its second phase, HB 107 made school zones and active construction zones hands-free areas, forbidding drivers from using any handheld electronic devices in school zones and the presence of workers. This provision went into effect on October 1, 2019.
Officers were issuing warnings for both provisions until Jan. 1, 2020, which marked the third and final phase of HB 107, thus enacting the legislation in its entirety. Now, anyone who violates any part of the new law will face fines, court fees, and/or points against their driving record.
Ideally, HB 107 will deter texting while driving on Florida roadways. Still, some drivers may violate the law and put other drivers at risk.
If you’ve been harmed by a distracted driver, the new legislation might benefit your personal injury case.
Find out what the Pittman Firm, P.A. can do for you by calling us 24/7 at (850) 764-0383 or scheduling a free case evaluation online.