TAMPA, Florida -- More than 150 new laws take effect across Florida today, and many of them could impact your daily commute.
One of the laws targets drivers who decide to take it slow in the fast lane. On any road with at least two lanes in each direction, any car going less than 10 miles an hour under the posted speed limit in the left lane could face a penalty, unless they're preparing to make a turn or are in bad weather conditions.
Another law bans truckers and other commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving, and allows both the driver and his or her company to be penalized.
Running red lights can cost drivers hundreds of dollars, and even worse, cause accidents. As of July 1, some of the regulations surrounding them are changing. A new law makes it clear that drivers making a right turn at a red light won't get a ticket if they do it safely and prudently, even if they come to a full stop beyond the stop line before making the right turn.
Perhaps the biggest impact the changes will have is on fighting red light tickets. Drivers will now have 60 days instead of 30 to dispute them, and instead of heading to court, they'll now have the right to request a hearing with a city or county appointed magistrate, kind of like a code enforcement officer.
Under the new law, municipalities must have a local hearing officer, and won't be able to give out red light tickets until they do.
"I think it's going to be a double edged sword for local governments. I think it's going to be good that they get to have some control over the processes, but I also think it is a little more burden on a local government," says Tampa's Acting City Attorney Julia Mandell.
Since the new law takes ticket disputes out of the courtroom, it now gives cities and counties the flexibility to charge up to $250 to pay for the costs of hearings. For now, Tampa says it will charge $50.
"The bottom line is the purpose behind red light cameras, despite what anybody hears, is safety, and we've already seen a drop in the number of red light camera violations as motorists realize what intersections they have to be more cognizant of," Mandell says. "So while it's seen as a moneymaking operation, it really is a safety issue."