Getting caught texting behind the wheel will now cost drivers in Florida, but how much varies by county.
Here are the things motorists need to know about the new law that went into effect statewide Oct. 1.
What is considered a violation?
The law states:
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”
In order for a violation to occur, the vehicle must be in operation. Texting in a stationary vehicle, such as one that’s parked or sitting at a red light, is not considered a violation.
What are the exemptions?
Florida’s new law provides a number of exemptions. They include, per the statute, drivers who are:
- "Performing official duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in s. 322.01, a law enforcement or fire service professional, or an emergency medical services professional.
- Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.
- Receiving messages that are:
- Related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle;
- Safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts;
- Data used primarily by the motor vehicle; or
- Radio broadcasts.
What are the costs?
According to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins, violations of the new law carry ticket fees that vary by county. Here are some examples of what motorists in the Bay area can expect to pay:
- Hillsborough: $103
- Pinellas: $116
- Pasco: $114
Keep in mind the texting ban is a secondary offense. This means police must have another reason to pull a vehicle over. That also means the total cost of the ticket will likely include the primary offense fees, as well.
What do you think of the texting ban? Tell us by commenting below!