Most Florida drivers know the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving, yet many continue to take the risk. According to Governor Ron DeSantis, as reported by Naples Daily News, in 2016, Florida saw almost 50,000 accidents due to distracted driving, resulting in over 230 deaths.
To counter the frequency of texting-and-driving accidents, the Florida Legislature passed the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, which gives law enforcement officers the right to pull over and cite distracted drivers.
Here is what you need to know about this law, how it can affect you as a Florida driver, and how our car accident attorneys can assist you after an accident.
Wireless Communications While Driving Law
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law went into effect in July 2019. This statute allows law enforcement officers to stop drivers who are texting and driving and those using wireless devices in specified school and work zones.
Texting and Driving
Section 316.305 of the Wireless Communications While Driving Law states that law enforcement officers may issue citations to drivers who are texting and driving. “Texting” involves typing or entering multiple characters into a wireless communications device with the purpose of transmitting a message to another individual.
Texting takes your focus off the road and prevents you from noticing sudden stops, changes in traffic patterns, or road obstacles. Consequently, texting while driving can cause a vehicular accident and is against Florida law.
School and Work Zones
Section 316.306 of the Wireless Communications While Driving Law prohibits the use of wireless devices in the following areas:
- School crossing zones
- School zones
- Active work zones, or areas in which construction workers are present
Using a wireless device in a handheld manner in one of these zones may result in a citation from a law enforcement officer.
Florida drivers should not take the Wireless Communications While Driving Law lightly.
Law enforcement officers do not need to provide evidence that they saw you texting when they issue your citation. Further, because this statute’s three-month introductory period has passed, first offenses automatically constitute fines.
Your first texting-and-driving offense will result in a non-moving traffic violation and a $30 fine. A second offense will lead to a $60 fine and a moving violation, which will result in a 3-point penalty on your license.
Distracted driving in school and work zones leads to even harsher penalties—first violations automatically result in a 3-point penalty and a $60 ticket.
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law indicates in broad terms that drivers cannot text and drive or operate wireless devices in specific zones. However, many Florida drivers have wondered if activities like tapping a button on their phones, viewing GPS directions, and texting at stoplights also fall under this statute.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the following activities are permitted under this law:
- Holding the phone to talk while driving if not in a designated school or work zone
- Tapping a button to answer a call while in a school or work zone
- Texting at stoplights and toll booths
- Viewing GPS directions while driving
Though these activities are technically legal, keep in mind that any instance of distracted driving can lead to an accident. If you are at fault, you will likely face fines and penalties whether you were texting or not.
Operating a handheld wireless device is only one form of distracted driving. Any activity that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel can fall into this category and result in an accident.
A few prominent distracted driving activities include:
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting your radio or temperature settings
You can even be distracted by your thoughts, especially after a stressful day of work. Thinking about work instead of the road in front of you can lead you to make dangerous mistakes while driving.
Though the Wireless Communications While Driving Law is only applicable to texting or talking while driving, officers can still cite you for committing traffic infractions due to distracted driving.
Have You Been Involved in a Texting-And-Driving Accident?
Texting while driving can lead to severe vehicular accidents. Many victims of these accidents suffer from long-term disabilities or other serious injuries that lead to steep medical bills and lost wages.
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a texting driver, you need a reputable accident lawyer on your side to guide you through the legal process and help you secure compensation. We can help.
Our experienced legal team has the knowledge and passion necessary to present your case accurately and represent you well. We have worked with victims of motor vehicle accidents for years, and we will work hard on your behalf as well.
DiBiaggio Law is a responsible legal team serving clients in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Monroe County. If you are a victim of a texting-and-driving accident, we may be able to help—contact DiBiaggio Law today at (561) 473-9800 for a free consultation with a car accident attorney.
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