By David Rutman, Traffic Attorney
Florida police can now pull over and ticket drivers alleged to be texting while driving. That already had been illegal in Florida for a few years, but was a “secondary” offense, meaning police had to first claim violation of another law (such as running a stop sign while texting.)
Now, if police see a driver texting, even though not committing another infraction, they can pull over the driver and issue a ticket. Police cannot confiscate a phone when issuing a texting ticket, though. The first few months of enforcement will involve only warnings, but then fines will take effect. The initial fine could be as low as $30, but would not carry points. A repeat offense within five years is branded a moving violation: the fine starts at $60, with a risk of three points on a license.
This does not apply to talking on the phone while driving, or using a GPS app, or any other activity beyond texting. And a driver can still text while the car is not moving, such as at a red light.
Also, it is also now illegal to simply hold a phone at all in school zones or construction zones while workers are present. This also may be treated as a moving violation with possible assessment of points.