Grace period for Florida’s texting while driving law ends Wednesday


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Starting next week, Florida drivers can be ticketed if they don’t use a device in a hands-free manner in school and work zones.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Wireless Communications While Driving bill into law on May 17 in Sarasota. The law went into effect on July 1 and made texting while driving a primary offense. Before that, it was only a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement couldn’t pull drivers over for texting while driving alone.

The second part of the law says drivers can’t use handheld wireless communications devices while driving in designated “sensitive” areas like school zones and work zones. That part of the law went into effect on Oct. 1 but offered a grace period that allowed drivers to get away with just a warning.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, that grace period is over.

Drivers who are caught using a device in school and work zones in a manner that is not hands-free can be ticketed starting next Wednesday.

According to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, drivers who are caught not using a device hands-free in those zones will be given a moving traffic violation with a base $60 fine, not including court costs and other fees. Three points will also be assessed against the driver’s license.

There are some exceptions to this part of the law. According to FLHSMV, the law is only applicable to work zone areas if construction workers are immediately present or operating equipment in the area.

The department says the law also does not apply to drivers who are:

  • Performing official duties operating authorized emergency vehicles
  • Reporting emergencies or criminal/suspicious activity to law enforcement
  • Receiving messages related to operating or navigating their motor vehicle
  • Receiving safety-related information like emergency, traffic or weather alerts
  • Using a device in a hands-free manner for navigation purposes

You can learn more about Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving law on the FLHSMV website.


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