Texting while driving has long been considered dangerous and even illegal in some states. Now, deputies across Florida can stop and ticket motorists who text and drive behind the wheel. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in May that allows deputies to ticket drivers for texting while driving. The law went into effect July 1.
Under the new law, phones can still be used for calls and navigation, as well as to read emergency messages such as weather alerts. Before July 1, texting while driving was considered a secondary offense, meaning you couldn’t be pulled over for that infraction alone. Instead, if a deputy pulled you over for a primary offense such as speeding or running a stop sign, he could also cite you for texting while driving.
Now that texting and driving has become a primary offense, motorists can be stopped for using their phones while operating a vehicle, even if they aren’t speeding or breaking other rules of the road. The one exception is that motorists will still be allowed to use their phones while their vehicle is stopped.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has long advocated for tougher statewide laws cracking down on texting while driving. “I’m happy to see that this law has made texting while driving a primary offense,” he said. “We all know distracted driving is dangerous. Now our deputies can crack down on this behavior to make Collier County an even safer place.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is working to alert drivers of the new law, and educate them about the dangers of texting while driving. But it’s also important that parents follow these rules for their children, and remind teenage drivers who are more likely to drive distractedly.
While the law has already gone into effect, certain aspects won’t be enforced until October 1. That includes a provision that prohibits all types of phone usage in work and school zones. Deputies will begin warning motorists of this change in the Fall, but won’t enforce it until January. Concerned about your teen texting while driving? Enroll him or her in the CCSO’s Teen Driving Academy. Information is on our website colliersheriff.org.
If it is a non-emergency, contact the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office non-emergency line at 239-252-9300. If it could be a crime in progress, call 911. If you have information on past occurred crimes or people who are involved in criminal activity, call the CCSO TIPS line at 239-775-8477, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a possible reward call Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS. You can also email CCSO at TIPS@colliersheriff.org