Florida’s Distracted Driving Laws
Since the popularity of smartphones has risen in recent years, and technology has continued to advance at a rapid pace, distracted driving has become more of a problem. Distracted driving directly related to cell phone or smartphone use will cause around 1.6 million crashes in the United States in any given year, with 330,000 of these accidents causing injuries or fatalities, causing many states within the US to enact distracted driving laws that lessen the temptation to use the phone while driving. Because each state differs on their particular distracted driving laws, it’s important to research the laws in any particular state before getting behind the wheel while traveling to that area.
Florida’s distracted driving laws aren’t quite as strict as the laws in some other states, 14 of which have banned any handheld phone use of any kind while behind the wheel, but they do exist to reprimand drivers who insist on driving while distracted behind the wheel. While using a handheld mobile device to talk on the phone is not banned in Florida, drivers can face fines and penalties for texting while driving, and this is thanks to Florida Statute 316.305, or the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law”. Under this law, texting while driving is viewed as a “secondary offense”, which means a driver will need to be initially pulled over for another reason, and if found to be texting as well, will have penalties tacked on. These first offenses can be directly related to the distracted driving, however, like swerving on the road, driving too slowly, or a driver is driving erratically.
The first fine if found texting and driving in the state of Florida is a $30 ticket, but any second offenses then move into the territory of moving violations. If a driver is found guilty of a second offense, they will then have their fine doubled and along with it will come as many as 3 points being added to a person’s driving record. 12 points accumulated on a person’s license in 12 months results in a 30 day license suspension, 18 points in 18 months results in a 3 month suspension, and 24 points in 36 months will result in a 12 month suspension of one’s license.
Florida’s ban on texting and driving doesn’t mean that texting is completely prohibited in a vehicle, however, and there are some exceptions to the rule. While the car is parked, like in cases of traffic jams, sitting at red lights, or stopped in a parking lot with the engine running, a person may text while in their vehicle and not worry about receiving any sort of fine or points accrued against their license.
Should a person get into a car accident that results in injury, texting and driving becomes a more serious issue. A driver’s phone records can be used against them in court if an accident caused by their suspected distracted driving causes serious injury to another driver or passenger, and their texting and driving decision could cost them more than a simple fine and a couple of points. If the accident has caused a TBI or other disabling injury, their phone records could be used against them in a lawsuit which requires them to pay significant damages to the injured party.
Distracted driving isn’t only a major modern problem in Florida, it’s one in every state in the United States. Like many others, Florida’s ban on texting while driving was enacted to deter drivers from reaching for their phones while behind the wheel, and encouraging them that their text can wait.