Florida’s New Texting & Driving Law:
What You Need to Know
“Get There Alive, Don’t Text & Drive”
Need a Distracted Driving or Texting While Driving Lawyer in Florida?
The Datny Law Firm in Boca Raton and Wellington Florida represents victims of car crashes caused by distracted or texting drivers throughout the State of Florida including (but not limited to) those in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale as well as the Orlando area.
The number of car accident injuries and fatalities from distracted driving (which includes texting and driving) is staggering. With the increase of accessibility to smart phones, and our reliance on the same, the numbers continue to rise. In 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,166 deaths due to motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted drivers. Nine percent of all fatal car crashes in 2017 were attributed to distracted driving. Distracted and texting driving also resulted in fatalities to 599 non-occupants including pedestrians, bicyclists, and others.
Not surprisingly, a recent insurance industry study revealed that the habit of texting and driving has proven hard to break insomuch as in 2018 distracted driving worsened in all but four states including Florida. Hopefully, Florida’s updated distracted driving law, which starting July 1, 2019 makes texting and driving a primary offense, will help deter drivers from texting and driving thereby reducing car accident related injuries and fatalities.
Section 316.305 – Texting & Driving Ban – What You Need to Know
- The bill was signed into law in May of 2019 by Gov. DeSantis making texting and driving a PRIMARY offense meaning drivers can be pulled over simply for texting while driving.
- The new law, which is an amendment of the existing statute enacted in 2013, goes into effect on July 1, 2019. As of July 1, 2019, drivers in Florida may be pulled over and cited for texting while driving.
- The new law only applies to vehicles that are being operated or in motion. It does not apply to stationary, stopped or parked vehicle.
- While you still are able to text while stopped at a red light, this practice is not recommended and a driver could be cited for impeding the flow of traffic if he or she remains stopped when they should be moving due.
Section 316.306 – Hands Free Law – What You Need to Know
- The second part of the new law, Section 316.306, prohibits the use of “wireless communications devices” (e.g., cell phone, tablet, lap top, two-way messaging device or electronic game), but ONLY while DRIVING in a SCHOOL ZONE, SCHOOL CROSSING OR WORK ZONE AREA.
- The hands free law does not apply to driving in areas other than a school or work zone. However, using hands free devices all the time remains best practice.
- The prohibition on work zones only applies if construction personnel are present or are operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work area.
- The law only applies to vehicles being operated or in motion. Stationary vehicles (e.g., stopped or parked cars) are not being operated in the meaning of this section and therefore the prohibition does not apply.
- This means you should only be able to use a phone in a school or work zone if your vehicle is stopped or parked. However, even if you are driving in a school or work zone, you may still tap your phone to answer. But to talk on the phone, you must use a hands free device such as speaker phone.
- The section will not be immediately effective on July 1, 2019. There will be a transition period. From October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019, officers may start pulling drivers over for using hand held devices while driving in a school or work zone.
- Instead of issuing citations during the transition period, officers will issue verbal or written warnings. The goal is to educate drivers unaware of the new law.
- No points will be given during the transition period for warnings regardless of how many are issued to a driver.
- The entire law will be in full force and effect starting January 1, 2020. At that time, drivers will be pulled over for using a hand held device while operating a motor vehicle in a school or work zone.
Exceptions to the New Texting and Driving Law
- As discussed above, the new law does not apply when your vehicle is stopped so there should be no citations issued for texting while parked or stationary at a stop sign or red light.
- The law does not apply when using hand held GPS devices, navigation or map features on your phone.
- You may still use your phone to receive safety alerts including emergency traffic or weather.
- Handheld device can be used to call police, report an emergency or suspicious criminal activity.
- The law does not apply to use of your phone through a hands free or Bluetooth devices.
- The law does not apply to drivers operating autonomous vehicles in autonomous mode.
What the Police Can and Cannot Do
- The Police are not allowed to confiscate or access a driver’s phone to see if they were texting during a traffic stop.
- A search warrant is required to confiscate, access or search your phone absent voluntary and unequivocal consent by the driver.
- Coercion or other improper methods of obtaining consent by the Police are prohibited and can never be considered voluntary.
- Citations issued by the Police carry fines ranging from $30-$100 in addition to assessment of court costs. The extent of the penalty will depend on whether it is a first or subsequent violation.
- Points for subsequent violations may also be issued on your license. A safe driving class will be offered to reduce points.
Contact The Datny Law Firm for Help!
Personal Injury Lawyer and Car Accident Attorney David B. Datny in Boca Raton and Wellington Florida has over 10 years of experience handling car accident injury cases and wrongful death claims on both sides of the aisle.
Attorney Datny has handled automobile accident claims throughout the State of Florida and in State and Federal Court in New York. He is personally available via phone or text to all Clients, Former Clients and Prospective Clients at 561-221-7474. Your case will be handled directly by Attorney Datny who will remain available to you personally throughout the entirety of the process as opposed to other firms that hand clients off to assistants or paralegals. At The Datny Law Firm, Attorney Datny remains personally committed to your case and making sure you the best possible medical and financial outcome.
If you have been injured in a car accident, whether involving a distracted or texting driver or otherwise, let The Datny Law Firm help. All consultations are FREE and we will travel to you to discuss your claim regardless of where you are located in Florida. The Datny Law Firm will charge NO FEE unless we win your case!
The Datny Law Firm represent victims of automobile crashes and distracted drivers throughout Florida including Palm Beach County, Broward County, Boca Raton, Wellington, Lake Worth, Riviera Beach, Royal Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, Lantana, Golden Lakes, Loxahatchee, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Greenacres, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach. We also represent Clients in Broward County including Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Lighthouse Point, Margate, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, Miami Springs, North Bay Village, North Miami, Orlando, St. Augustine, South Miami.