Electronic devices are the biggest cause of distractions for drivers nationwide. In 2016, Florida alone saw roughly 50,000 accidents and 233 fatalities as a result of distracted driving.
In the time it takes to glance at a text message, a driver can travel nearly 300 feet—enough to strike a pedestrian, hit the back of a stopped line of cars, or even veer off the road entirely.
Florida Drivers May Be Ticketed for Texting and Cell Phone Use
In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law strengthening protections against electronic distractions and making texting and driving a primary offense. As of July 1, law enforcement officers may pull over drivers who are texting without any other reason for the traffic stop.
Florida detracted driving laws place specific restrictions on:
- Cell phones. While it's legal for drivers to make and answer calls, all drivers in school zones and construction areas must use hands-free systems in order to talk on the phone. Troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol troopers may begin issuing warnings for cell phone use beginning October 1, 2019 and issue citations for the practice after December 31.
- Texting. It's illegal for drivers in Florida to text while driving. This includes manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a virtual keyboard, hitting a button on a wireless device to send messages, or reading any data off a device while a vehicle is in motion. Drivers face a $30 fine for a first offense, plus court costs; with second and subsequent offenses within five years, there's a $60 fine and an addition of three points to their licenses. Drivers caught texting in a school zone may have two additional points added to their licenses, while motorists whose texting resulted in a crash will have six points added to their licenses.
- Truckers and bus drivers. Operators of trucks and buses are held to a higher standard than other drivers. Both truck and bus drivers are only allowed to use wireless communication devices if they're hands-free, and can be pulled over and charged if they use a handheld electronic device while driving in Florida law without committing another violation. For the first violation, commercial drivers can receive a fine up to $500 and their companies can be charged separate costs up to $2,750. If a driver commits three texting violations or more, he or she can be liable for a $2,750 fine and license suspension for 120 days, while the employer can be fined up to $11,000.
If you've been injured in a distracted driving accident, you should have the incident investigated as soon as possible. A thorough examination can reveal if a driver was using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident, which can significantly affect the amount of damages a victim is awarded.
Our attorneys can help you build a strong injury case and advise you of all of your legal options. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices, or call the number on this page to speak to an attorney.