New Florida Laws

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - New elements of the texting and driving law are going into effect. Drivers are required to stop using devices and go completely hands-free in school and work zones. This is part of House Bill 107 that strengthens the ban on texting and driving in the state. A portion of the law went into effect in July.

The offense switched from a secondary to a primary meaning law enforcement can pull you over if they see you on your phone. As part of the law, officers are going to be giving out written and verbal warnings until January 1st, 2020. The eventual punishment for using devices and driving, a moving violation and three points on your license.

Senate Bill 96 was passed the last session and provides protections for police or fire department animals. The previous punishment for killing or severely injuring law enforcement dogs and/ or horses or fire department search and rescue canines was a third-degree felony that carried a maximum of a five-year prison sentence. The new law charges individuals with a second-degree felony with a maximum of 15 years in prison,

This change was prompted after a police K-9 was killed in the line of duty last year. The K-9 was shot and killed by a suspect being pursued by police.

Senate Bill 1080 comes as a response to the death of a Florida State University fraternity pledge in 2017. The current law allows individuals who haze someone where the incident results in death or severe injury to face a third-degree felony with a maximum of five years in prison.

The new law will allow third-degree felony charges for individuals who help coordinate or seek other's help during a hazing act in which the victim's condition results in severe injury or death. Additionally, the new law provides protection for those who notify 911 that an individual is in need of care during a hazing incident.

Senate Bill 160 makes it illegal to sell, offer or display a child-like sex doll. The bill passed unanimously in the Florida House and Senate.
An examination of this law determined that these dolls were being sent from other countries. The report said, "Such dolls are manufactured in China, Hong Kong, or Japan, and are shipped to the U.S. And labeled as clothing mannequins or models in order to avoid detection"

The current punishment for this offense is a first-degree misdemeanor charge. Under the new law, the charge can be upped to a third-degree felony for repeat offenses.