Many Orange County drivers were caught off guard when they were stopped and pulled over by deputies on Forest City Road on February 20.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office enforced the hands-free portion of Florida’s 2019 texting and driving law that makes it illegal to hold one’s cellphone or any other mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle through an active school or construction zone.
Deputies were stationed at a school zone near Lake Weston Elementary to prevent auto accidents and reinforce the law. According to WKMG News 6, “dozens of drivers” were pulled over in the span of one-and-a-half hours when deputies spotted motorists using their phones while driving through the area.
Motorists who were pulled over for using a cellphone while driving received a $164 ticket. In Florida, first-time offenders can waive the fine if they demonstrate proof that they purchased a hands-free device. The proof must be shown to the clerk at the court.
Although deputies in Orange County say that they are on the lookout for violations of Florida’s hands-free law every day, they plan similar large-scale operations in the coming weeks to reinforce the law and educate more drivers.
Everything You Need to Know About Florida’s Hands-Free Law
Many drivers in Orange County either ignore the hands-free portion of Florida’s distracted driving law or are not aware of it. We have compiled the list of facts about the new law in Florida.
How Do Warnings for Texting and Driving Count Against Your Driving Record?
Warnings for texting and driving never count against your driving record regardless of how many of them you receive during the transition period.
Can You Hold Your Phone to Talk While Driving?
While Florida law does not explicitly prohibit motorists from holding the phone to talk while driving, doing so is not recommended if you want to avoid car accidents. Starting October 1, 2019, Florida drivers cannot hold a wireless device in their hands when driving through a school zone or an active work zone.
Can You Type/Read Text Messages While at a Stoplight or Toll Booth?
Under Florida’s 2019 hands-free law, police officers can only stop drivers for texting and driving when the vehicle is in motion. Thus, officers are not allowed to stop drivers who are caught texting at a stoplight or toll booth.
Nonetheless, a driver can still be cited for impeding the flow of traffic if they are distracted by their cellphone when they should be in motion.
Can You Eat or Drink While Driving in Florida?
Florida law does not specifically prohibit eating or drinking while driving, which means police officers cannot pull you over if you are seen doing those activities. However, if the activity caused you to violate a traffic law, the officer can stop your vehicle and take enforcement action.
If you are accused of violating Florida’s hands-free law, talk to a Lakeland distracted driving accident attorney at The Turnbull Firm. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500.