In Florida, a handful of new laws went into effect at the start of the year. While the most talked-about change involves texting while driving, several others could affect your life here in the Keys.
Cigarettes & vaping: The minimum age to purchase cigarettes or vaping products went up from 18 to 21. In the next 30 days, most fruit- and mint-flavored nicotine vaping products will be banned by the FDA.
Minimum wage: Florida’s starting minimum wage increased by $0.10, from $8.46 to $8.56. Amendment 2, which voters will be able to vote on in November, would increase this to $10 in 2021 with a gradual rise to $15 by 2026.
Texting: Texting while driving has become a “primary offense,” meaning cops can pull drivers over on suspicion of texting while driving alone. “Texting” includes emailing, messaging, and otherwise typing on a cell phone while driving. With the new year, police can now issue uniform traffic citations for texting behind the wheel. A first offense is a $30 fine and court fees. Holding a phone in a school zone could result in a fine.
Lower business property taxes: Taxes on commercial leases dropped from 5.7% to 5.5%. The reduced sales tax rate applies to rentals, leases and licenses to use real property.
Notarizing documents: Need to notarize a document in Florida? Now you can do it online. Notaries must be physically present to perform the service, but signatories can now be anywhere in the world and still have documents legally notarized through online-video communications.
Prescriptions: Prescriptions now must be sent electronically. Medical care providers have until license renewal or July 1, 2021 to comply. A waiver and a few exceptions exist.
Real ID: Does your driver’s license have a little gold star on the top right? If so, you’re safe. If not, you’ll need to get a Real ID sooner rather than later. Real ID attempts to improve the security of licenses and ID. cards. On Oct. 1, 2020, you won’t be able to fly in/out of Florida on a commercial airplane with a non-compliant license alone. As of the new year, non-compliant licenses no longer can be renewed online.