Texting while driving in Florida is already illegal, but only a secondary offense. To be charged with this moving violation, police must have stopped you for another type of driving offense, such as speeding. To make texting while driving a primary offense, House Bill 107 was created.
The bill recently passed the Florida House and is now on its way to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for signing. If the governor signs the bill, Florida will be the 44th state that treats texting while driving as a primary moving violation. What does this mean for anyone who operates a motor vehicle in the state? How will it affect mandatory and optional Florida traffic school online courses?
Here is what is known about House Bill 107 as it stands currently:
- Police can stop motorists for texting while driving without needing another reason. If the bill becomes law, police can now pull people over if they see them texting while driving.
- The bill does not ban using mobile devices while the car is not moving. If the car is parked or stopped, where it is stationary, you can still use your mobile device. However, once the car starts moving and you are not a passenger, you must put the device down and stop using it.
- Mobile devices can still be used for other purposes like GPS or listening to music. You will still be allowed to use your mobile device for navigation purposes and listening to music.
- House Bill 107 requires police offices to collect data about the ethnicity and race of people who are ticketed. If stopped, police will collect this data, which will be reviewed by the speaker of the house, the president of the senate, and the governor to determine if specific motorists are being targeted.
- When driving through a school zone or work zone, mobile device use must be hands-free. You cannot pick up and use the device and could be stopped and ticketed if you do.
- Officers are required to advise motorists of their rights to decline a search of their mobile device. If stopped for texting while driving, you do not have to let the officer search your smartphone without your consent or a warrant. The only exception is if you are involved in a car crash that causes injuries or death.
- House Bill 107 will not apply to autonomous vehicles. Texting while driving does not apply to self-driving cars. However, if the person takes control and is driving, then the bill would apply.
- Certain Florida traffic school online courses may need to be updated to reflect the changes in the bill. For instance, the Florida Learner’s Permit Test Online includes a section on all current driving laws in the state, which would have to be updated to make drivers aware texting while driving would be a primary offense.
If the governor signs the bill into law, it would take effect on July 1, 2019, with a few exceptions. The hands-free school zone and work zone portion would go into effect on October 1, 2019, with written and verbal warnings and fines starting on January 1, 2020.
Whether you have been issued a ticket or are getting ready to get your driver license in Florida, there are different online courses you must complete, like the Florida First Time Driver Drug and Alcohol Course (TLSAE) or the Florida Basic Driver Improvement Course to help keep points off your license.
For further information about these and other Florida traffic school courses online, and why you should complete them through Ticket School, feel free to explore our website further. You may also contact us directly at (800) 558-9887 if you have questions or need assistance in selecting the right online courses.