What If I Get Caught Holding a Cellphone While Driving in a School Zone?

Cellphone in a school zoneLast year, Florida passed a bill that allows law enforcement to pull you over for texting while driving. For years it’s been illegal to text while driving in Florida. Still, it wasn’t made a primary offense until recently, which means that, up until this year, a police officer couldn’t pull you over and issue a traffic citation solely for texting. But they could pull you over for something else, like speeding, and write a ticket for texting-driving as a secondary offense.

Law enforcement didn’t begin enforcing this law until January 1, 2020. Up until then, if you were pulled over for texting while driving, you’d only receive a warning. Now, you’ll be issued a ticket. When it comes to school zones, the texting-while-driving ban is strictly enforced. Offenders will not only get a ticket, but the fine will be higher than non-school zones.

Consequences of Holding a Cellphone While Driving in a School Zone

If you’re driving through a school or construction zone, avoid using your cell phone at all costs. If law enforcement catches you looking down, texting, or playing on your phone while operating your vehicle, you’ll be ticketed. Law enforcement officers are much more vigilant in school and construction zones than regular roadways. In addition to the texting-while-driving ban, it’s illegal to use handheld cell phones while driving in school or construction zones. So, if you need to make a phone call, you must have it running through your Bluetooth device or on speaker. If law enforcement catches you texting-while-driving or using your cell phone to talk while in a school or construction zone – you’re getting a citation. The penalties for this include:

  • Holding a phone in a school or construction zone: $60 fine plus 3 points on driver’s license
  • First offense texting-while-driving in all other zones: $30 fine
  • Second offense texting-while-driving in all other zones: $60 fine plus 3 points on driver’s license

Many people use their earbuds to turn their cell phones into hands-free devices. If you’re going to use this method while driving, be sure that one ear is without an earbud to avoid a citation.  

Texting-While-Driving Law Compared to the Seatbelt Law

Some equate the dangers of texting while driving to driving while intoxicated. Law enforcement can usually tell if you’re using your cell phone while driving by watching your driving patterns. Driving distracted in a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds at high speeds can be deadly. Just as law enforcement implemented the “Click it or Ticket” campaign for driving without a seat belt on, they’re hoping to do the same with the no texting law.

Police officers started to enforce wearing a seatbelt while driving with citations back in 2009 – when it became a primary traffic violation. Florida Highway Patrol and police officers throughout the state estimated that 360,000 tickets were written in that first year. Over time, those tickets began to decrease as the general public became more aware of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt in an accident.

Almost a decade later, in 2017, seatbelt tickets written in Florida dropped to less than 100,000. Law enforcement hopes that enforcing the texting-while-driving law will produce similar results. The significant difference, however, is that it’s much easier to see whether someone is wearing a seatbelt than it is to tell if someone is using their cell phone. Despite that, law enforcement will be carefully observing motorists in school and construction zones for texting offenders.

Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Orlando

Distracted driving causes thousands of car accidents throughout the United States each year. In Florida, the State Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that in 2016, almost 50,000 crashes involved drivers driving while texting or being distracted. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence and distracted driving, the auto accident attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can help.  

As one of Orlando’s leading car accident and personal injury law firms, Umansky and his team are well-versed in the legal processes required to secure the highest compensation for your injuries. They’ve helped clients secure hundreds of thousands of dollars for their clients’ injuries and have the case results to prove it. Call on the car accident attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm for a complimentary consultation at (407) 228-3838 or fill out a contact form online today.