Miami, Florida – Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law on Friday, whereby texting while driving a vehicle will be considered a traffic infraction on July 1 and offenders will be sentenced to pay fines.
“I think it’s appropriate, I think it will make our roads safer,” Governor DeSantis said during a press conference in Sarasota, in western Florida.
Until this law comes into force, drivers who write or read texts on devices while behind the wheel in Florida can only be reprimanded if they are stopped for another infraction.
But with this law, the police can stop them only by texting and impose fines that start at $ 30 for the first offense and go up to $ 60 plus procedural costs if there is recidivism.
If the vehicle is stationary, it is not subject to the prohibition, which includes when it stops at a traffic light or in a large traffic jam.
The prohibition does not include the sending of texts to the police authorities in case of an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity.
HB 107 also establishes a prohibition on texting, so that drivers can not use a cell phone or other device when passing through special areas such as school zones or where people are working on fixing the roadways.
This portion of the law, called “hands-free”, will come into effect on January 1, 2021.
With this law Florida joins 47 other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Guam, where, according to the Federal Communications Commission, it was already prohibited to text while driving.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) estimates that 9 people die each day and more than 1,000 are injured in accidents involving a distracted driver.
According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 3,166 people died in this type of accident. This figure represented 8.5% of deaths due to traffic accidents that year. (EFEUSA)