MELBOURNE, Fla. — Florida’s new texting and driving law gets stiffer starting Tuesday. The new law mandates drivers go “hands-free” in certain areas.
- Illegal to hold phone while driving in school, construction zones
- Tickets will be issued starting January 1, 2020
- RELATED: 5 Things to Know: Florida’s New Texting While Driving Program
It's now illegal for drivers to hold phones while driving through school zones and active construction zones. Active construction zones are areas where workers are actually present, doing construction work.
The ban doesn’t apply to construction zones where workers are not present.
The mandate is an extension of the state's texting while driving ban that went into effect earlier this year.
Drivers will be allowed to still use cell phones, but they must be enabled using a hands-free device or technology.
It’s okay for drivers to pick up phones if their vehicle is not in motion, for example at stop-lights or when traffic along an interstate comes to a complete stop.
"You cannot have anything in your hand," said Commander Marc Claycomb of the Melbourne Police Department. “It has to be hands-free in school zones that are active."
On Monday, Melbourne Police began their “Bus-ted 2.0” operation, which focuses on bus laws. But under that umbrella, officers will also be cracking down on distracted driving — drivers holding phones to talk or text.
"There has to be a change. That's why there is a grace period in the education phase — still going to stop you, still going to talk to you about the violation, but (we’ll) try to give you a warning in the first three months of the operation," Claycomb said.
Law enforcement will only be issuing warnings to drivers until January 1, 2020 when drivers cited will face tickets, fines starting at $30, and potential point reductions on their drivers licenses.