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Florida’s new texting and driving law starts July 1

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The state is planning to run a campaign on the new law for a couple of months, warning drivers before law enforcement starts issuing citations.

However, there is a catch when it comes to the new ban on texting and driving. 8 On Your Side is learning how drivers likely will be able to get out of tickets.

According to the new law, law enforcement can pull you over if they think you’re texting starting July 1. But you don’t have to hand over your phone. It’s only in the event of personal injury or a deadly crash will they be able to pull phone records without your permission.

S. Pete Police Department tells 8 On Your Side, there is a second part to the law where an officer can issue citations to drivers who are using their phone in a handheld manner in work or school zones.

To read the full texting while driving ban, click here.

Here in Hillsborough County, the sheriff’s office is planning to do a slow roll out when it comes to the new law, working to educate the drivers about putting their phones down before they start issuing citations.

“We are letting Deputies know that when they first encounter drivers to make sure they are making them aware that this new ban is in place, and make sure you are talking with them about putting their phone away,” said Crystal Clark, HCSO spokesperson.

If you get a citation for using your phone while driving, you can face fines of $30 to $100 plus court costs and three points on your license, which can be eliminated by passing a safe driving class.

The law has a number of important details and exceptions:

  • It goes into effect July 1, but the state will run a campaign to inform people of the new law, then officers will write warning tickets for a few months.
  • Starting January 1, 2020, drivers can be pulled over just for being on their phones while driving. They will face fines of $30-$100 plus court costs and three points on your license, which can be eliminated by passing a safe driving class.
  • Police must get your permission to check your phone, otherwise they need a warrant. They cannot check your phone records through your mobile provider unless there is a crash where someone is killed or hurt
  • The law does not apply when your vehicle is stopped
  • The law does not apply when using maps or navigation
  • There are exceptions for using your phone for safety alerts, like traffic and weather, or for using your phone to call 
  • You are also excepted from the law if you are using your phone to call police or report an emergency
  • When driving in school and work zones, you cannot be on your phone at all, and must use a hands-free device

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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