Florida drivers soon to be ticketed for using handheld devices in school and work zones
On July 1, a Florida law was passed banning the use of handheld devices in school and work zones — yet allowing hands-free use of Bluetooth technology.
Florida drivers have been advised by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) that as of October 1, they can be stopped and issued a warning for handling or holding electronic devices when in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone.
What is the new law?
The law, known as the Wireless Communications While Driving Law (Section 316.305 and Section 316.306), applies to all wireless technology. This includes cellphones, tablets, laptops, two-way messaging devices, and electronic games. It doesn't apply to any built-in vehicle technology.
Only those who are performing official duties or reporting emergencies or illegal activity are exempt. Those who violate this law may have points assessed against their driver's licenses. In addition, fines may apply for a:
- First offense — $30
- Second offense — $60 plus three points
Is the Wireless Communications While Driving Law important?
To make drivers aware of the new hands-free law, the FLHSMV began leading the Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriff’s Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, and the The American Automobile Association.
State Rep. Jackie Toledo explained why Florida's hands-free law is so critical.
“The hands-free aspect of this law will help ensure that parents, teachers, children and crossing guards are always safe and those who work on our roadways are able to come home to their loved ones,” said Toledo.
Drivers caught using cellphones or other handheld devices in school or work zones will be issued warnings until December 31. Starting on January 1, those who violate the hands-free rule will be cited. From July 1 to September 24, approximately 463 warnings for texting and driving were issued by the Florida Highway Patrol. From July 1 to September 22, there were 605 citations issued by all law enforcement agencies across the state.
“We are happy that the Florida Legislature enacted a hands-free law for motorists who are driving in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone areas. These are some of our most vulnerable areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, so remember to put the phone down and keep your eyes on the road,” said Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
Is distracted driving the new norm?
Today, distracted driving is becoming far too common. Everywhere you look, you see drivers preoccupied with electronic devices or other tasks not related to driving. In a split second, their failure to stay attentive could result in someone else's injury or death.
If you were hurt in a car accident with a distracted driver, an experienced car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Brent C. Miller, P.A. can help you explore your legal options. To find out how we can help you, contact us online to set up your free consultation.