Understanding the Texting and Driving Laws in Florida
Florida drivers are now banned from texting on their phones while they are behind the wheel. This law went into effect last July but has left many Florida residents with questions about what is considered legal and what is not under this law.
Texting and Driving
There is no texting and driving allowed at all behind the wheel. If it involves manually typing into your mobile device, entering multiple letter, numbers, or symbols, or reading anything off the phone, it is considered illegal. So, it doesn't just include texting. The new law also applies to reading and sending emails and instant messaging as well.
What About Red Lights?
According to the law, if the vehicle is stopped and not being operated, then the law does not apply. So, technically, you can text at a stoplight or while you are in traffic and in a stationary position, but as soon as you start moving again, you need to put the device down because it again becomes illegal.
What About Navigation?
Another widely asked question regarding Florida's new texting and driving law is if it is still legal to use navigation apps like Google maps. The law does include an exception for vehicle navigation. It also allows radio broadcasts and safety-related information including the weather and emergency alerts.
Can I Talk on the Phone?
As of October 1st, it was considered illegal for a driver to talk on a handheld device in school or construction zones when workers and children are present. However, you can still use hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth.
Can the Police Check My Phone?
Unless the police officer has a warrant, they cannot take your phone after pulling you over for texting and driving. They also cannot keep the phone while they wait on a warrant either. Drivers can decline a search, and the phone can only be checked if it was a voluntary decision made by the driver.
Are There Exceptions?
There is an exception to this new law and that exception is for law enforcement officers including firefighters and other emergency personnel.
Texting and driving in Florida used to be only a secondary offense. This means that they could only be cited for texting and driving after being pulled over for another offense. However, it did become a primary offense in July as we previously stated.
Florida was just one of a very few states in the country that treated texting and driving as only as a secondary offense. When they changed this law, they were taking a step in the right direction toward saving lives and limited distractions that drivers have while on the roadways.
More than 43 other states in the country already had this law in effect to keep distracted driving from becoming a very significant concern for public safety. The penalty for a first-time offense in Florida is a $30 fine and other court costs. If you are caught using your phone in a school or construction zone, you will also receive three points on your license.
If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver at fault and you suffered injuries as a result of the accident, you will want to discuss your case with a qualified personal injury attorney so you may receive the compensation that is rightfully yours.