People love to blame millennials for everything. However, the reality is that if you’re anywhere between the ages of 16 and 65, you probably have one (or several) social media accounts, as well as use your phone to check emails and send text messages. The use of mobile devices to communicate is so pervasive, that it’s even become common to see drivers fiddling with their phones while behind the wheel.
What does Florida law say about texting while driving and what are the consequences for breaking this law?
Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law
As of June 2019, the law addressing texting while driving is Florida Statute section 316.305. Such law states that a person may not use a mobile device to text, email, use data, or use their phone for any type of message other than voice messages while driving a motor vehicle.
Are There Exceptions to the Texting While Driving Law?
There are several exceptions to this law. A person may use their phone while driving for the following purposes:
- Using GPS
- Receiving emergency alerts
- Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement
- Using the phone without having to type (e.g. talking on the phone using a Bluetooth or using voice command).
What Happens If You Get Caught Breaking This Law?
If you get caught breaking this law, the first offense is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable by a civil penalty of $30. If you’re caught a second, third, or more times within five years of the first violation, the punishment is a civil penalty of $60.
If you cause a car accident, the consequences are a potential lawsuit, community service, and possibly, imprisonment if the accident results in the death of another person.
When Does the Law Go Into Effect?
The existing law was enacted in 2013 and is only enforceable if you’re pulled over for something else, such as speeding or running a red light (meaning that texting while driving is a secondary offense). However, effective July 1, 2019, a police officer may pull you over for the sole reason of witnessing you texting or otherwise sending messages or scrolling through social media while driving (meaning that the new law makes texting while driving a primary offense).
In addition to the civil penalties, you’ll accumulate three points on your driving record. Furthermore, the police officer will be required to record your race and ethnicity for the purpose of avoiding racial profiling when pulling drivers over.
Can You Still Use Your Phone At a Red Light?
Florida Statute 316.305 explicitly states that if a car is stationary (not moving), the prohibition does not apply. Therefore, yes, you may use your phone to send messages or scroll through social media while stopped at a red light.
Can Your Phone Be Confiscated?
No, the officer who pulls you over cannot confiscate your phone, unless they have a warrant.
Call Clark Law for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. The longer you wait, the higher the chance that you’ll miss your opportunity to file for certain types of damages, or to obtain evidence for your case.