At The Ward Law Group, our commitment to advocating for road safety and championing the rights of accident victims extends beyond the courtroom. Our founder, Ms. Jany Martinez Ward, recently shared her insights and expertise in an interview with El Nuevo Herald, shedding light on Florida's latest initiative to enhance road safety – a new law penalizing texting while driving.
The law, officially known as HB 107, went into effect on Monday, July 1st, 2019, and represents a major advancement in the state's efforts to combat the dangers of distracted driving. This legislation, approved by the state legislature in April and then signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in May, makes using a cell phone while driving, including texting or emailing, a primary offense.
Thus, law enforcement may initiate traffic stops based on suspicions of these offenses, underscoring the seriousness of the problem and the demand for prompt action.
During the interview, Ms. Jany Martinez Ward, a leading attorney and the driving force behind The Ward Law Group, expressed her support for the new law. She said, "This new law is a step in the right direction, as texting is one of the most dangerous distractions for a driver." Her remarks underscore the firm's commitment to advocating for road safety and contributing to initiatives to create safer roadways for everyone.
In addition to court costs and fees, the law imposes fines on offenders, with a $30 penalty for a first offense. In addition to the associated court costs, the fine increases to $60 for a second infraction within five years of the first. Notably, a second offense will result in three points being added to a driver's license, underscoring the seriousness of the penalties.
In addition to these fines, the law limits the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in particular areas, like work zones near highways and schools. Although these rules take effect on October 1, there will be a warning period until June 1 to ensure drivers have enough time to prepare before facing fines.
The law permits drivers to send text messages while parked, using a navigation device, or stopping at a traffic light. It acknowledges the significance of hands-free technology.
Ms. Martinez Ward highlighted the dangers associated with texting while driving, noting that reading a text diverts a driver's attention for nearly five seconds – equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph with closed eyes. Her expertise and advocacy contribute to raising awareness about the risks of distracted driving and promoting responsible behavior on the roads.
Florida witnessed nearly 50,000 distracted-driving-related accidents in 2016, according to Ms. Martinez Ward, citing statistics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving leads to approximately nine daily fatalities and 1,000 injuries. In 2017, distracted driving contributed to 3,166 fatalities, representing 8.5% of total deaths that year.
Ms. Jany Martinez Ward's viewpoint remains a guiding principle for The Ward Law Group as it represents accident victims and actively engages in road safety initiatives. The company is still committed to making roads safer and ensuring accident victims get the necessary assistance and legal counsel.
Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on road safety, legal insights, and our ongoing efforts to impact our community positively. At The Ward Law Group, we believe in empowering change, one case at a time.