MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Mount Dora police on Thursday posted a video reminding drivers that texting and driving in Florida will become a primary offense July 1.
"We want to pass along some information you need to know while you're driving. Be safe and put down the phones while you're on the road," an officer said in the video.
A first offense will have a $30 fine, and a second offense will have a $60 fine.
News 6 led the Driving Change campaign after anchor Matt Austin was injured in a crash by a distracted driver.
On Sept. 9, 2016, Austin was waiting for a traffic light to turn green when a vehicle slammed into his car. Austin was knocked unconscious by the impact of his daughter’s car seat slamming into the back of his head.
Austin was treated for a concussion, had 10 staples put into his head and was off the air for an extended period of time. During Austin’s overnight stay in the hospital, the responding officer to the crash told him the driver had been texting. But when Austin obtained the police report, there was no mention of the texting and no citation listed.
It was then that Austin learned that in Florida, texting and driving was a secondary offense and officers could not issue tickets unless they witnessed the driver texting and driving and witnessed the driver also breaking another law.
When Austin returned to work, he knew that something needed to be done.
“We had to ask our elected officials tough questions and demand answers. When they tried to sidetrack the answers, we drove back to Tallahassee until they answered and began working on solutions,” Austin said. “It was about holding them accountable until they could no longer back down.”
“It was a long and hard fight,” said Austin. “But now after nearly three years, 100 stories, more than a dozen trips to Tallahassee and thousands of miles driving around Florida to track down decision-makers, I'm relieved Florida politicians finally did the right thing. They made safety a priority."
Then new law also makes it illegal for drivers to hold a cellphone in either a school zone or a marked construction zone.