Texting while driving law in effect Monday

By Zachery Lashway
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MIAMI - Consider this your reminder: Starting Monday, texting while driving will get you pulled over in Florida. 

Currently, officers can only cite drivers for texting behind the wheel if they are pulled over for another violation. But on July 1, that will change.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill in May. Florida is one of the last states to make texting while driving a primary offense. 

Drivers are still allowed to use GPS or Bluetooth, as long as they are not traveling through marked school zones or construction zones. There will be a zero tolerance in those areas.

Some admit, enforcing the law could present challenges for officers like recognizing the difference between texting and using GPS. But a spokesperson for one local department said often times people are so distracted you can drive up beside them, look over, see what they’re doing and pull them over for that. 

When DeSantis signed this bill into law, he pointed out that Florida had nearly 50,000 crashes in 2016 caused by distracted driving. In those crashes, 233 people died. 

Currently, only 16 states have introduced a total “hands-free” law, with Georgia adding its own version in 2018. 

Beginning Monday, warnings will be given until the end of the year. After that is when officers will begin writing citations.

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