With new legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2019, drivers might
want to think twice before texting while behind the wheel. Under the law,
texting while driving is a primary offense. That means a police officer
can pull over a driver if they are reading or typing out a message on
their phone. Before this law was enacted, texting while driving was a
secondary offense, which meant an officer could only cite a motorist for
texting if they had first been pulled over for some other
In addition to the restriction on texting while driving, the legislation
makes it illegal to use a hand-held device while traveling through a school
or road construction zone. The state is allowing a learning period for
this section of the law, which means, until December 31, 2019, officers
can issue only warnings to violators. After that date, law enforcement
will begin citing drivers. The warnings will not be recorded on a person’s
What Are the Violation Penalties?
If a person is caught texting, emailing, or instant messaging while driving
or using their phone in a school or highway work zone, they could be fined
$30 for their first offense. The penalty increases to $60 for a second
and subsequent offense that occurs within 5 years of the prior conviction.
Will the Police Take a Person’s Phone if They Are Caught Violating this Law?
An officer cannot confiscate a person’s cell to check whether or
not they were texting while driving. Generally, police must have a warrant
or the individual’s consent to take possession of their personal property.
Can a Person Text or Send a Message While at a Stoplight?
The law only prohibits using a wireless communication device to send messages
while the car is in motion. A person who texts while their vehicle is
stopped will not be considered violating this law. However, they could
be cited if what they are doing on their phone is so distracting that
don’t realize the light has changed and they stop the flow of traffic.
Can a Cell Still Be Used to Make Calls?
Whether a person can engage in a phone call while driving depends on where
they are. If the driver is not in a school or construction zone, they
are not prohibited from talking to others on their phone. However, beginning
October 1, 2019, holding the phone to make or receive a call in a restricted
area will result in a warning (or a ticket if the offense occurs on or
after the first of next year). Drivers can still use hands-free technology.
Is Using a Navigation System While Driving Prohibited?
It is not unlawful for a driver to use their phone or other devices to
receive and follow directions from one place to another.
Schedule a Free 30-Minute Consultation with The Law Office of Wyndel G.
Under the new law, texting while driving is a noncriminal traffic infraction
that could result in a ticket and points being placed on your license.
If you were pulled over for this offense, contact me today to discuss
your case. I will take the time to understand your situation and begin
building a strategy to fight the citation.
For powerful legal defense, call me at (941) 564-5319 or
fill out an online contact form.