Starting Monday, July 1, 2019 law enforcement in Florida will be able to pull drivers over if they see them texting and driving. Florida’s texting and driving bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, makes texting and driving a primary offense.
Up until this point, texting and driving was considered a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement needed another violation to pull the driver over. Florida lawmakers have worked hard to change this fact for years but were only successful this last session in passing a law that makes texting behind the wheel a primary offense.
The legislation was officially signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17. He noted that Florida was one of the last states to make texting while driving a primary offense. He also noted that Florida had more than 50,000 accidents in 2016 alone caused by distracted driving, resulting in 233 people losing their lives.
Since this law is so new, drivers should be aware that law enforcement will be on heightened alert to warn drivers of their violations. If you are pulled over for a violation between now and the end of the year, however, you will only receive a warning. This six-month grace period was set to allow drivers to get used to the new law before written citations are issued. Once the new year begins, all bets are off, and law enforcement will be issuing formal tickets if a driver is seen texting while driving.
Certain exceptions exist under the new law, including the use of GPS or Bluetooth on cellphones. Drivers can use these applications, so long as they are not traveling through a construction zone or marked school zone. These two areas are specifically considered zero tolerance areas, and drivers who are using GPS or Bluetooth on their phones will be ticketed.
First-time offenders will receive a $30 citation, while a second offense will result in a $60 fine under the new law. Points will also be assessed to drivers’ licenses depending on the offense, and court costs and fees may also be incurred.
FAQ’s Regarding Florida’s New Texting and Driving Law:
Can Florida drivers’ still text at red lights?
Yes. While it is not recommended, it is not against the law because your car is stopped. However, in a work or school zone, you are not allowed to pick up your phone at all.
Can Florida drivers’ text while in traffic?
No. Even if you are in stop and go, or bumper to bumper traffic, you are not allowed to text.
Can you text at a stop sign?
Technically, you can text at a stop sign but you are not supposed to be stopped for long, so it is certainly not recommended. Be safe and put your phone down.
Can you use GPS?
Yes. Bluetooth is still allowed. However, you cannot have a navigational device in your hand in a school or work zone. Law enforcement agencies prefer navigational systems be mounted, if visual representation is needed.
Can drivers use social media while behind the wheel?
No. Scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed while driving is against the law and considered the same as texting.
Can drivers play games on their phone?
No. “Candy Crush”, “Words with Friends” and all other games on your phone are treated the same as texting and are against the law.
Can drivers receive text messages?
Yes. You will not be penalized for receiving text messages while you are driving or glancing at your phone when you receive a text, unless you are in a hands-free zone.
Can drivers answer a phone call?
Yes. If your cell phone rings you can pick it up while driving with no penalties, unless you are in a hands-free zone.
What to Do if Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident.
It is easy to see that distracted drivers are frequently at fault for car accidents on Florida’s roads. This means other drivers and passengers are affected by the reckless driving that texting, eating, and other distractions cause. Distracted drivers are more likely to speed, need to stop abruptly, make swift or sudden turns, and swerve. All those behaviors lead to more car accidents.
If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you may want to bring a personal injury claim to cover injuries and other expenses resulting from the accident. The best way to assess your claim and amount of compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other losses is to speak with an injury attorney in Florida. Through an initial consultation, a personal injury lawyer can begin to understand the circumstances of your claim and possible recovery.
FREE CONSULTATION WITH A MIAMI AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY.
To build a successful personal injury claim against a distracted driver, you need a dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney. Our Miami personal injury law firm, have an entire legal team focused on car accident injury claims, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and other incidents involving distracted drivers. Contact our Miami office for a free consultation by calling toll-free at 1-866-597-4529, locally at 305-441-0440, reach us by email at [email protected] or on our LIVE chat on aronfeld.com to arrange a FREE confidential initial consultation at your home, office, hotel or hospital.