Published On: Tue, Oct 1st, 2019

Hands Free Mobile Devices a Must in School and Work Zones — Texting While Driving Will Get You A Ticket

By: Robert S Weinroth

As of last month, Florida’s tougher prohibition on texting-while-driving had resulted in over 1,000 citations and warnings being issued. A Florida Highway Patrol officer said the measure is having an effect. “It’s going to save lives,” said Chief Mark Brown. “Most people want to do what’s right. They want to follow the law. But it’s a matter of changing behavior, and it’s a tough behavior to change.”

Section 316.305, Florida Statutes allows law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to motorists that are texting and driving. A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email and instant message.

The new law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in May, law took effect July 1st. Heretofore, texting-while-driving was considered a secondary offense meaning it could only resulting a citation when coupled with another infraction. As of July 1st, a law enforcement officer is empowered to stop drivers who are texting and driving, making the action a primary offense. Florida was among the last states to implement a primary texting ban.

Through September, the Florida Highway Patrol had issued over 500 written warnings for texting.  Patrol officers were going easy on drivers to help transition to the new enforcement policy, promoting safety and education as opposed to writing citations.

In signing the legislation into law,  Governor DeSantis said in 2016, Florida had nearly 50,000 accidents caused by distracted driving, which resulted in 233 deaths with texting, presumably, a factor in many of those accidents.

Although warnings are expected to be mostly issued to violators until January 1, a ticket would carry a $30 fine. Court costs and fees also apply, and points would be added to a violator’s license. The texting ban does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system — or when a vehicle is not moving.

Beginning TODAY, drivers can be stopped for not operating a motor vehicle in a hands-free manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area.

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol is leading Florida’s Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign to get the word out to all motorists.

Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, is a prohibition on using wireless communications devices in a handheld manner in school and work zone.  A person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area. Active work zone, as it pertains to Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, means that construction personnel are present or are operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work zone area.

According to Governor DeSantis, “The hands-free aspect of the law makes school zones, school crossings and active work zones safer across our state and gives law enforcement a strong tool to educate drivers. Using a wireless device while driving is extremely dangerous, and all drivers should be focused on the road.”

Distracted driving in work zones and school zones puts some of our most vulnerable road users at risk. There is never a safe time to use a wireless device while driving, nothing is more important than protecting lives. The aim of the new law is to make children safes as possible when going to and from school by helping to ensure parents, teachers, children and crossing guards are always safe and those who work on our roadways come home to their loved ones. According to FLHSMV Executive director Terry Rhodes, “Driving through these areas requires all of your attention and I implore motorists to pay attention to their surroundings and focus on driving.”

Troopers will continue to educate motorists on every traffic stop and explain the dangers of distracted driving.

“Safety for all road users is our number one priority at the Florida Department of Transportation” said FDOT Secretary Kevin J Thibault. “Distractions from mobile devices have no place behind the wheel. It is more important than ever to practice good habits while on the road. It is up to each of us to make the commitment to drive distraction free, every trip, every time.”

Drivers using a wireless communications device in a school crossing, school zone or active work zone will be issued warnings through December 31, 2019.

Starting January 1, 2020, drivers will be cited for using any wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in these designated areas.

From July 1 through September 22, 2019, there have been 605 citations issued statewide by all law enforcement agencies for texting and driving.

The statewide Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign aims to raise awareness of and encourage compliance with the Wireless Communications While Driving Law. You can follow the campaign on social media with the hashtags #PutItDown and #FocusOnDrivingFL. The campaign media kit can be found at flhsmv.gov/focusondriving.

 

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. As a newly elected County Commissioner, Weinroth has been appointed Vice-Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>