Hands-free part of Florida's texting & driving law starts Oct. 1

Troopers will hand out warnings, issue citations starting Jan. 1

The second part of Florida's new texting and driving law goes into effect this Tuesday, October 1st.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The hands-free part of Florida's new texting and driving law goes into effect in a few days, which makes it illegal for drivers to hold a phone in school and construction zones. 

The law has been in effect for almost three months.

Starting Oct. 1, drivers must be hands-free in construction or school zones.

News 6 spoke to state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who represents Orange County, earlier this month. She said the second part of the new law will make the roadways safer, especially for children.

"We're talking about children, and in a school zone, they're getting off the school bus, they're darting in and out of traffic, they're really not paying attention. For people to be on their cellphones in a school zone increases the danger that there is going to be a fatality," Thompson said.

Lawmakers recently got an update on the new texting and driving law. The Florida Highway Patrol delivered its report earlier this month to the Florida House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.

Between July 1 and Sept. 17, troopers have issued 438 warnings, while law enforcement agencies across the state have given out 542 citations.

Troopers said they will start giving warnings when the hands-free portion of the new law going into effect. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, FHP will start giving out citations when a driver is caught holding a phone in a school or construction zone. The base cost for a ticket is $60.

Thompson said this is a great start to toughening Florida's texting and driving laws, but she still wants to drive change.

"We want hands-free throughout the state of Florida and so that you don't have your device in your hand for any reason," she said.