With a new year can come commitments you make to yourself and the opportunity for a fresh start in many areas of your life.
A new year can also mean new laws. 2020 is ushering in new distracted driving laws in states around the country, and some of these are detailed below. You’ll want to keep an eye on these laws for yourself, and if you’re the parent of a teen driver, you’ll need to discuss these laws with them as well.
Teens can often be some of the biggest offenders when it comes to distracted driving, and they’re not necessarily known for keeping up with new changes in the law either.
In Florida, as soon as the New Year began, it meant new driving laws. Starting January 1, 2020, in Florida, you can receive a ticket if you’re caught texting and driving.
Texting while driving officially became illegal in Florida in July 2019, but since that time until the new year, officers were only issuing warnings to drivers caught doing it. Now, a driver can get a ticket for the offense.
In Florida, if you’re using a navigation device, the ban doesn’t apply to you and it doesn’t apply when your car is stopped. It also doesn’t include using your phone to answer a call.
If you are caught texting and driving under the new laws, you’ll pay $30 for the first offense, and then it goes up to $60 after that, plus you’ll start to get points on your license to the tune of three points each time you’re caught.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed legislation that bans the use of electronic devices altogether while you’re driving as well as when you’re operating a bicycle.
The legislation was initially filed in 2003, and it took this long for it to come to fruition.
Under the law, you must use a hands-free device while you’re driving.
If you are operating a motor vehicle, you can’t hold a mobile device, even if you aren’t texting. Your mobile device has to be in hands-free mode. This strict law prohibits the viewing of any texts, images or videos on a device, but you can use a map generated by a navigation system on a mobile device if it’s mounted to the windshield, dashboard or center console, as long as it’s not impeding the operation of the vehicle.
If you are using an electronic device in response to an emergency, you’re exempt from the law.
The law technically takes effect in February 2020, but drivers will only get warnings for violations through March 31, 2020.
In Illinois, you’ll see new and updated driving laws in effect as of New Year’s Day.
For example, if you’re in Illinois and you violate Scott’s Law, you’ll have to pay increased fines. There will be increased fines for reckless driving, passing a school bus and speeding in a construction zone as well.
Illinois has long been known as one of the toughest states when it comes to cracking down on distracted driving, and 2020 will be no exception.
In 2010 Illinois passed a law banning texting while driving and that was expanded to include phones without hands-free devices in 2014. Now in 2020, drivers are banned from watching streaming videos on any device while they’re on the road. Devices include phones, laptops, tablets, and electronic games.
If there is a violation leading to a crash causing bodily harm, the driver may face felony charges. Otherwise, there are fines, and the amount of the fine goes up with the number of violations.
Finally, another state where a new year means new laws is California.
Driving while using phones is already illegal in California, but the state is making the penalties stricter. Although it won’t be enforced until 2021, in California, a point will be added to a drivers’ record for each violation of distracted driving occurring within 36 months of a past conviction.
Other California traffic laws taking effect include a requirement that passengers can’t consume cannabis while on public transportation, in limos, in campers or taxis.
As of now, unless authorized by law the DMV can’t suspend or delay driving privileges if someone’s convicted of a crime not involving a Vehicle Code violation unless that offense included the use or attempted use of a vehicle.
Have you checked to see whether or not your state is enforcing new traffic laws, particularly related to distracted driving?