Put it down: Florida’s texting while driving law goes into full swing January 1

Starting in January, Florida drivers will be more likely to get a ticket for texting while driving or using a phone in a school or work zone.

The state’s new texting while driving law technically went into effect July 1, but law enforcement officials have used the first six months to focus on education.

“We don’t want anyone to take their eyes off the road. We want everyone to be, just, focused on driving. That’s the number one thing. Just put it down,” said Lt. Derrick Rahming with the Florida Highway Patrol.

FHP alone has issued 897 warnings YTD, but as of Jan. 1, 2020, enforcement becomes the priority.

“Enforcing the law with citations,” Rahming said. “There will be an approach where we want to make sure that everyone has had their time in the six months.”

In extreme cases, law enforcement officials haven’t hesitated to write a ticket. Statewide, police have issued 1,151 tickets for texting behind the wheel YTD.

Since Oct. 1, 30 tickets have been issued for violations to the hands-free portion of the law, which applies only in active school and work zones.

“We just want to make sure that if you have a device in your hand, you’re going to get stopped, you’re going to get a citation,” said Rahming.