Stricter enforcement of texting rule in school, work zones begins

Image 1 of 2

Florida drivers can no longer hold their cellphones while driving through active construction zones, school zones and areas where a school crossing guard is present.

The new state law went into effect Tuesday. Drivers can still use their phones as long as they use a hands-free option.

"We're not asking drivers for a lot," said Lieutenant Kim Montes with Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). "We're asking them to protect our children and our construction workers by putting the phone down when you're in these areas."

Lt. Montes said the law can only be enforced while the car is in motion. If a trooper catches a driver holding a phone while driving through one of the designated areas troopers can stop them immediately because it is a primary offense.

RELATED: New laws targeting texting and driving, hurting police K-9's go into effect Oct. 1

"For an officer to see somebody holding this device in their hands while they're in one of these designated areas they will be stopped."

FHP said troopers will be handing out warnings until the end of the year. Starting January first drivers can get a moving violation with a cost of at least $60 and three points on the driver's driver's license.

In addition, a bill filed Monday by Rep. Emily Slosberg would go even further than the current laws on the books. It would require drivers to be "hands free" pretty much everywhere. That applies to texting, swiping, dialing and having the phone at your ear.

RELATED: Bill filed wants motorists to go completely hands-free

Driver Derek Sprague thinks it's a good idea, telling FOX 35 that "less distraction behind the wheel is better for everybody."

FHP said in 2018 there were more than 52-thousand distracted driving crashes in Florida and 233 were fatal.

27 new laws go into effect on Tuesday. Some these will revolve hazing, possessing child-like sex dolls, and protecting police K-9's and horses.