New measures to take effect Jan. 1 in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New measures will be taking effect Jan. 1 in Florida.

Although texting while driving became a primary offense in Florida July 1, law enforcement officials used the first six months to focus on education. But the grace period is over. Starting Jan. 1, Florida law enforcement agencies will be ticketing drivers caught texting behind the wheel.

Before the law, Florida was one of only four states where texting while driving was a secondary offense.

The legislation also made all school zones, school crossings and active construction zones completely hands-free. The penalty is a $60 fine and three points on the offender’s driver’s license. It’s a harsher penalty than the $30 for texting while driving.

And with the new year comes new earnings. On Jan. 1, Florida’s minimum wage will increase to $8.56 per house, with a minimum wage of at least $5.54 per hour for tipped employees.

Legislation requiring health care practitioners to produce and submit all scrips electronically to pharmacies will also take effect Jan. 1. The electronic prescribing bill was sponsored by state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, in the House and by state Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, in the Senate.

Additionally, as of Jan. 1, the Honor and Remember Flag will become the state’s emblem at specific locations on specific days to honor and recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by America’s fallen military service members.

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