Download Halloween Safety Flyer
  Oct 1, 2013

Sheriff Arnold Lanier would like to remind all Hardee County drivers that effective at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, texting while driving is against the law in Florida. 

The new law was passed with the intent to:

-     Improve roadway safety for all motor vehicle operators and

passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other roadway users.

-     Prevent crashes related to the act of text messaging while driving a

motor vehicle.

-     Reduce injuries, death, property damage, health care costs, health

insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates related to motor vehicle crashes.

-     Authorize law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue

citations as a secondary offense to persons who are texting while driving.

 A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.  As used in this section, the term "wireless communications device" means any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet or any communications service as defined in Florida State Statute 812.15 and that allows text communications. 

A motor vehicle that is stationary, and is not being operated, is not subject to the prohibition in this paragraph. 

The law does not apply to a motor vehicle operator who is:

-     Performing official duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle defined in Florida State Statute 322.01, a law enforcement or fire service professional, or an emergency medical services professional.

-     Reporting an emergency or criminal/suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.

 "Although this is a very hot topic right now, there are an infinite number of ways to drive distracted.  We all are tempted to let our guard down occasionally.  Every driver, every day, however, should remind themselves that driving is a deadly serious endeavor.  We should, therefore, each commit to giving it the attention it deserves every time we get behind the wheel.  Your life, or someone else's, may depend on it," said Sheriff Arnold Lanier. 

Again, this is a secondary offense and a non-moving violation.  The first fine is $114.  If a person is cited again within five years, it becomes a moving infraction, with a $164 fine.