Texting & Driving Laws in Florida: 3 Facts You Should Know

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It’s no secret that using a cellphone behind the wheel increases the risk of crashing, yet millions of drivers still make a habit of out sending and reading texts. In doing so, they put their own lives as well as the lives of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk. To deter motorists from driving while distracted, Florida legislators have passed several traffic laws that restrict cellphone use, and violating these laws could result in a fine and other penalties.

Read on to learn three facts you should know about Florida’s texting and driving laws:

1. Texting Behind the Wheel Is Now a Primary Offense

As of July 1, 2019, texting behind the wheel is a primary offense. That means the police can stop your vehicle and issue a citation even if you weren’t committing another offense at the time; however, Florida Highway Patrol will only be issuing warnings until January 1, 2020. On that date, drivers who violate the law will face a $30 fine for a first offense (with no points) and a $60 fine for a second offense within five years (with 3 points).

Although the new law still allows drivers to talk on their cellphone, it is illegal to hold a phone while driving through a school zone or active work zone. Starting October 1, 2019, law enforcement will begin issuing warnings for this hands-free portion of the bill.

The law only applies when a car is in motion.

2. The Fine Isn’t the Only Cost That Violators Incur

While a $30 or $60 fine might not seem that steep, it is not the only cost you can expect to pay if you are cited for texting behind the wheel; you will also incur court costs and surcharges, which usually increase the total cost for a first offense to more than $100. You could also face an increase in your car insurance premiums.

3. Court Costs and Surcharges Can Vary by County

The court costs and surcharges you pay for violating the texting while driving law will depend on the county where the offense occurred. For instance, a first offense in Brevard County would cost you $119 while a first offense in Orange County would cost $114.

Steps to Take After Being Hit by a Distracted Driver

What you say and do after an auto accident could have a major impact on the outcome of your subsequent claim. If you are hit by a distracted driver, the following steps could put you in a more favorable position to pursue damages from the liable motorist:

  • Take photos and videos of property damage, injuries to yourself and others, and the scene;
  • Write down the insurance details and contact information of all drivers involved in the wreck;
  • Record the contact information of eyewitnesses;
  • Write down the name of the at-fault driver’s cellphone service provider in case your attorney needs to file a subpoena to obtain cellphone records;
  • If you notice any surveillance cameras in the vicinity, ask to view the footage, and record it with your cellphone;
  • Go to a doctor right away for a medical evaluation;
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly to prevent disputes over a failure to mitigate damages;
  • Call a texting while driving accident attorney; and
  • Don’t post anything about your case online, and update your social media privacy settings so only your connections can view the content you publish.

Call (727) 821-1500 to Speak with a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer in Florida

Nobody should have to face an uncertain financial future due to a collision that a distracted driver caused. If you or someone you love was harmed in such an accident, turn to Emerson Straw for representation. We offer free consultations and accept personal injury and wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis. Dial (727) 821-1500 or send us a message to set up a case evaluation.