Over the past ten years, texting and driving has come to the forefront as one of the public’s biggest concerns. Florida’s lawmakers recently addressed the epidemic of distracted driving by enacting the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” on October 1, 2013. The purpose of this ban is to improve roadway safety, prevent crashes, and to reduce injuries, death, property damage, health care costs, health insurance and automobile insurance rates.*
What You Need To Know About Text While Driving?**
In Florida, the violation is a secondary offense. This means a police officer cannot pull you over solely for texting and driving. Instead, the police officer must have another reason to pull you over—such as speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, running a red light, careless driving, reckless driving, and a number of other traffic infractions—before he or she can cite you for texting while driving.
However, texting while driving is generally a primary offense in other states which means you can be pulled over solely for texting and driving.
What Your Can & Can’t Do
You cannot text while driving You cannot read a text while driving You can text and/or read a text while your car is stationary (e.g. at a red light or in a traffic jam) You can text and/or read a text that is capable of receiving and processing voice commands You can text to report an emergency or criminal activity to law enforcement You can use your cell phone for navigation purposes
What are the Penalties for Texting While Driving? ***
Texting while driving is a non-criminal traffic offense. First violation is punishable as a non-moving violation with a fine of $30 plus court costs. Second violation committed within five years of the first moving violation is punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs. In addition, any violation of this law that results in a car accident will result in 6 points added to your driver’s license record.
How does this law benefit your car accident case?
As a car accident victim, the penalties may seem light. However, the Florida law is moving in the right direction. In the context of a personal injury lawsuit, the texting while driving ban in Florida benefits the victim if we can show, by obtaining cell phone records, that the other driver was distracted and not acting as a reasonable driver because he or she was texting and driving.
This information is helpful and beneficial to a car accident victim’s claim because by violating the texting while driving ban the other driver commits “negligence per se.” In other words, if the other driver violated the texting while driving law, you receive a rebuttable presumption that the other driver was negligent. This minimizes a car accident victim’s burden of proof at trial and often serves as leverage against car insurance companies for an early resolution or settlement.
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, contact Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA at 1-888-878-4LAW to protect your rights and recover damages for your injuries.
* S. Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement, Bill No. CS/SB 52, at 6-7 (2013). ** See id; Fla. Stat. § 316.305 (2013). *** S. Bill Analysis, supra note 1, at 8.