Texting banned while driving in Florida
It has taken five years, but Florida has finally banned texting while driving. A new statute (316.305) is in place that defines how cell phones and other wireless devices can be used by drivers. The law was signed on May 28by Governor Rick Scott, although many people feel the bill is vague when it comes to defining driving, and it has too many loopholes.
The bill does prohibit drivers from texting, emailing or sending instant messages while they are driving; however, a stationary motor vehicle does not qualify as being “operated.” Therefore, a driver can legally text while stopped at a stop light. Exceptions to the ban include using a navigation system or receiving emergency information.
Unlike many other states, though, Florida’s ban is a secondary offense. This means an officer cannot stop a driver simply because he or she is seen texting. In addition, the first time a motorist is cited for the offense, it is a non-moving violation with a fine of $30 plus court costs.
The second time a motorist is cited for texting while driving will have a significant impact. It will be a moving violation and add three points to a driving record. The fine for the second offense will be $60 plus court costs. The motorist’s car insurance premiums may go up, just as they would with a speeding ticket.
If the ticket is issued in an area designed as a school safety zone, then the motorist’s driving record will be assessed two points. Should it be determined that texting was a factor in an injury or fatal car accident, six points will assessed. The new law, though, specifically states the only way a motorist’s phone records can be used in court is if the accident caused an injury or a fatality.
If you are involved in an automobile accident because the other driver was texting, contact an experienced attorney to discuss a possible personal injury case against the responsible party. You may be able to recoup damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and other claims.
Source: foxbusiness.com, “Florida Finally Bans Texting,” Penny Gusner, June 3, 2013