Florida updated its distracted driving laws in 2019. Device use while driving, including email, instant messaging, texting and typing, now constitutes a primary offense.
Review and abide by the changes to stay safe on Florida roads.
What is a primary offense?
Before, drivers could only receive a citation for texting and driving after an officer stopped them for another offense. Now, device use behind the wheel is a primary offense. That means a police officer can stop a driver and issue a ticket even when the motorist did not also commit another infraction.
Does the law ban all device use?
Florida does allow some exceptions. Motorists can use voice commands to text and operate other apps that have hands-free functionality. However, drivers cannot use hands-free headsets in school or work zones.
In addition, the state allows device use in completely-self driving vehicles, for navigation purposes, when reporting a crime, when receiving information in a crisis situation or when working as a first responder.
What are the penalties?
Drivers who violate the updated law receive a $30 ticket plus fees for the first offense and $60 for the second offense. Courts can order higher fees for work and school zone violations.
Florida also issues three license points for a second texting offense. Drivers will receive a 30-day license suspension if they accumulate 12 points in a year. Other point-based offenses include speeding and reckless driving.
Device use behind the wheel causes a disproportionate number of serious motor vehicle accidents. Motorists can stay safe by stowing their smartphones except when engaging in approved use with appropriate hands-free technology.