The toll of driving and texting has nationwide implications. In fact, at any given moment, over 660,000 people are using their phones while driving. That has deadly consequences given the number of serious vehicle accidents caused by driving and texting. According to the National Safety Council, over 1.6 million crashes are linked to cell phone use every single year.
In response to what some call an epidemic, lawmakers in Florida and around the country have taken many efforts to curb this behavior and to decrease the fatalities. Florida’s driving and texting law that went into effect in July of 2019 is one such effort.
Whether you’re a resident, visiting family here, or enjoying a vacation, you need to know how Florida’s driving and texting law impacts you.
Florida’s driving and texting law now makes this behavior a primary offense, allowing officers to pull over drivers who are spotted texting behind the wheel. In the past, texting often came to light after the fact when a crash happened or when an officer pulled over the driver for some other reason.
Despite numerous efforts to raise awareness about distracted driving in Florida and laws designed to discourage the behavior, far too many people were still willing to pick up their phones and take that risk.
Florida is one of the last states around the country to put such a law into place, and the state is home to many preventable texting and driving accidents. In 2016, the most recent year for which data was available, over 50,000 accidents in Florida had some connection to distracted driving.
Is It a Warning or Violation? Preparing for Distracted Driving Pullovers
In school zones and construction zones, October 1, 2019 was an important date for the ban on handheld use of phones at all. There’s an educational period in place now to give drivers a warning if they are caught with the phone, and that will hold until January 1, 2020.
Warnings do not count against a driver’s individual record, even if that driver gets multiple warnings for violations of the texting and driving law.
Understanding When Handheld Devices Are Allowed
Outside of school or construction zones, drivers are allowed to use handheld devices, although it isn’t recommended. Anyone holding or using their phone increases their chances of being involved in an accident.
The exception for handheld devices, however, became active on October 1, 2019 as part of Florida’s driving and texting law. This applies to drivers in construction areas with workers present or school zones.
When Can an Officer Catch Someone Driving and Texting?
If the person is at a stoplight, texting is still dangerous as the act of looking at the phone pulls the person’s focus away from the task at hand. However, police officers enforcing Florida’s driving and texting law can only stop a person under the primary offense rule if the vehicle is in motion.
The exception to this is if the officer says that the person has impeded traffic by being distracted by their phone; this violation could apply to the driver even if the vehicle was not moving at the time.
Drivers are still allowed to use GPS on their phones in order to get places if they have entered the address prior to departing. This answers a common question about whether or not rideshare drivers have an exception for the handheld device law. Verbal directions should be used by any driver tapping into the GPS program on their phone.
Know the Violations and Costs if You’re Pulled Over
If an officer does allege that you violated the texting and driving law in Florida, you should know what’s on the line. The first offense is classified as a non-moving violation and ends in a $30 fine with no points added to the driver’s record.
Any second or further offenses within a five-year period are classified as a moving violation and this leads to 3 points added to your driving record and a $60 fine in addition to any court costs.
Personal Injury Attorneys Miami
Have you already been hurt in a texting and driving accident? The dedicated personal injury lawyers at Berman Law Group are here to take your claim seriously and to help guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit. Don’t wait to get help if another person’s distracted driving behavior caused you harm. Contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Berman Law Group today at 561-660-9995 to discuss your rights under the law and the best way to move forward.
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3351 NW Boca Raton Blvd
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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