What is the Florida Distracted Driving Law?
Over the last decade, distracted driving has become one of the biggest dangers on Florida roadways. As smartphones have become ubiquitous, people are choosing to text, email, browse social media, and chat while driving. Using a phone takes a driver’s eyes off the road, attention off of driving, and hands off the wheel, creating a significant safety hazard for themselves, their passengers, and other drivers. More and more people are being injured and killed in distracted driving accidents in Florida and across the country every year. In 2016, nearly 50,000 car accidents across the state were caused by distracted driving, and the numbers are only increasing. Florida has adopted rules and regulations governing the use of mobile devices while driving in an effort to curb the practice. Learn below about Florida’s distracted driving law.
Florida’s distracted driving law makes texting while driving a primary offense
Florida adopted more stringent distracted driving laws in the summer of 2019. Under these new rules, no driver may operate a motor vehicle while manually entering letters, numbers, or other keys into a phone. That means no texting, emailing, web browsing, or otherwise tapping keys on a mobile device while driving. Police are authorized to pull over a driver and issue a citation if they witness a driver operating the vehicle while typing on their phone. Before July 2019, officers could only cite a driver for texting after stopping the driver for some other moving violation, such as speeding or running through a red light. Now, officers can pull someone over specifically on suspicion of texting while driving. Officers were issuing warnings to drivers for texting in 2019, but as of January 1, 2020, officers are authorized to issue traffic citations for phone use while driving.
Technically, the law does not ban holding a phone to talk while driving, although safety officials strongly advise against the practice. Additionally, the law does not appear to allow officers to cite someone for texting while stopped at a stoplight, although officers may cite a driver for impeding the flow of traffic if they are not moving when they should be. Regardless, we strongly encourage drivers to wait until they are fully stopped at their destination to answer a text, email, or instant message.
Additionally, under Florida Statutes Section 316.306, drivers may not use any wireless device in a handheld manner in school or work zones, including designated school crossings, school zones, and active construction work zones. Handheld use includes talking on the phone, beyond just texting or emailing. Drivers may reach over to their phones to tap to accept a call in hands-free mode, but they may not pick up the phone to chat.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in central Florida, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. Contact Rothenburg Law Firm in Ocala today for more information and a free legal consultation.