The Umansky Law Firm talks about what to expect with new Florida texting and driving ban
Because of the immense dangers posed from texting and driving, this hazardous habit has consistently been banned in states around the country over the years. Starting October 1st, Florida will initiate the ban for drivers in the state, making it the 41st state in the nation to have some sort of law in place prohibiting texting while operating a motor vehicle. Unlike other states, there will be no “grace period” where Floridians will learn more about the penalties associated with the ban along with how they actually will be cited for it.
The Umansky Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm located in Orlando, Florida, defends hundreds of citizens accused of traffic violations every year. Floridians are typically pulled over for speeding, running red lights and stop signs, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and driving with an expired license.
The bill aims to “improve roadway safety for all vehicle operators”, “prevent crashes related to the act of text messaging while driving a motor vehicle”, and “reduce injuries, deaths, property damage, health care costs, health insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates related to motor vehicle crashes”, according to legislation.
Since it is a secondary offense, an individual cannot be pulled over solely for texting and driving. The driver must be pulled over for other traffic violations, like speeding or reckless driving. Only then may they be cited for texting and driving by way of the discretion of the law enforcement officer.
Lawmakers are spending marginal resources to promote the new law, so widespread awareness may take time for many Floridians.
William Umansky, founder of the Umansky Law Firm, said “It will be interesting to see how police will enforce this law. I am worried that they will ask motorists for their phones and attempt to look at their personal information to determine if the motorist was illegally texting.”
The costs associated with this new law are $30 plus court costs for the first offense; $60 for the second.
The bill is under heavy criticism from some Florida politicians because of it being a secondary offense and essentially harmless if the driver is doing nothing else wrong on the road.
With his closing thought about what the most viable impact of the new law will be, Mr. Umansky said, “In reality, other than visually observing a motorist text, how will police determine whether a violation has taken place? I am concerned that police will overstep their bounds, invade privacy rights of Florida citizens and use it as a pretext to search vehicles.”
The bill also includes many exceptions to the law, many of them including emergency situations and exclusions for emergency vehicles. An individual may also text at red lights and use voice communication like iPhone’s Siri to translate speech to text.