New Texting While Driving Law in Florida
How many times have you been in your car waiting at a red light when it turns green and the driver in front doesn’t move – because he or she is looking down at a phone? We’ve all been in this situation, and maybe you’ve sometimes been the at-fault party when this happens. For the longest time, Florida drivers could get away with this behavior. In 2020, that’s no longer the case.
Last May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that officially added Florida to the list of 45 other states allowing law enforcement to pull over and issue tickets to drivers for texting and driving. There was a period up until January 1, 2020, where law enforcement would only render a warning. After the first day of the new year, law enforcement will start issuing citations.
What the Texting Law Means for Florida Drivers
Texting while driving is now a primary offense that law enforcement can issue tickets for. While texting and driving have been illegal in Florida since 2013, police officers couldn’t pull you over solely for this offense. If you were pulled over for speeding and the officer witnessed you texting while you were speeding – they could issue you a ticket.
Drivers in Florida are still allowed to use GPS on their phones while driving. But they can’t type in their destination while driving, nor can they hold their cell phone in their hand while driving. Drivers can still hold their phone to their ear while driving, but only in certain areas. That applies to all areas except for school and work zones. It’s illegal for Florida drivers to hold their cell phones to either talk or use their GPS while driving through school or work zones. If a police officer catches you driving through an active work or school zone with your cell phone in hand, you might receive a citation for doing so.
The only exception to this texting while driving law is that if your car isn’t moving or stopped at a red light, you’re allowed to text and use your phone. If your car’s in motion, then a police officer can write a citation for texting and driving.
How Much Are Texting and Driving Tickets in Florida?
The fines for texting and driving are minimal compared to other states. For a first offense after January 1, Florida drivers receive a $30 fine. The penalty for a second offense doubles at $60 per ticket. After court costs, the dollar amount might be closer to $100 for a second violation, so it can get expensive. These tickets, however, won’t go on your permanent driving record, nor will they carry points against your license.
In neighboring states such as Georgia, fines for texting and driving are much higher. Georgia citations are some of the highest in the country, with a fine of $150 plus one point added to your driver’s license for a first offense.
Look to the Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Orlando
Penalties in Florida for texting and driving are minimal for now. But this is still an issue that all drivers should be aware of. Distracted driving puts everyone’s lives at risk, including the driver who is getting distracted by their phone. According to the National Safety Council, using cell phones while driving accounts for about 27% of all car crashes. Florida’s effort to reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road can mean safer roads for all Floridians.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you’re entitled to compensation. The Orlando car accident attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can fight for your right to receive damages to cover medical bills, vehicular damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate your case and provide a free initial consultation. To schedule your free consultation, contact them or fill out our online form today.