Driving while using a wireless communications device is increasingly becoming a growing problem on our roads today, and Florida has taken legislative steps to stop it. By understanding how the state of Florida is addressing the issue of distracted driving, drivers can make more informed decisions when it comes to their safety and the safety of others.
Read on to learn more about Florida’s laws on wireless communications device use while driving.
Is texting and driving illegal in Florida?
In the state of Florida, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while operating a cell phone or any other handheld electronic device. This includes using the device to text, call, email, or take photos and videos. In addition, drivers may not access the internet while their vehicle is in motion.
The penalty for being caught using a wireless communications device while driving is a non-moving violation that can come with hefty fines. It could even result in points on your driver’s license. If you are involved in an accident while distracted by a cell phone, it can also lead to higher insurance premiums.
Overview of Wireless Communications While Driving Law
The purpose of the Wireless Communications While Driving Law (Florida Statute section 316.305) is to reduce distracted driving and create a safer environment for all motorists on the roadways. The law prohibits the manual typing or entering of multiple letters, numbers, or symbols into a wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle in order to text, email, and instant message.
When did the law go into effect?
In 2013, section 316.305 of the Florida Statutes made it illegal for motorists to text and drive. Those found in violation can be pulled over by law enforcement and issued a citation. As of October 1st, 2019, Florida Statute section, 316.306 was put into effect, covering handheld wireless communication devices while driving through school or work zones.
Handheld Use Prohibited in School and Work Zones
In addition to the manual typing or entering of multiple letters, numbers, or symbols into a wireless communications device, the prohibition against using wireless communications devices in a handheld manner while driving through school and work zones was added. This law is enforced to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other motorists in these more sensitive areas.
What Qualifies as a Wireless Communications Device?
A wireless communications device is any handheld apparatus that can be used in a hands-on manner, created or intended to access or store data and send/receive text messages (or other characters) over the Internet and communication services. This includes handheld electronic devices such as a smartphone, and any type of tablet, laptop, or two-way messaging devices such as walkie-talkies or gaming consoles.
How Much Is a Texting and Driving Ticket in Florida?
In Florida, section 316.305 of the Statute outlines the following penalties for texting while driving:
- Offense 1: Committing a non-moving traffic violation comes with an initial fine of $30, which does not include court costs or other extra fees. Fortunately, this violation will not negatively impact the driver’s license points.
- Offense 2: Within five years of the first offense, a moving traffic violation could cost you a base fine of $60 plus court costs and any additional fees. Additionally, 3 points will be added to your driving record.
- A Moving Offense: Moving traffic violations are more costly, with a base fine of $60 and additional court costs plus other fees added on top. Furthermore, three points will be accumulated against the driver’s license as well.
The Impact of Distracted Driving on Road Safety
Distracted driving has been linked to an increased risk of injury and fatality on roads across America. According to the United States Department of Transportation, texting while driving caused 3,142 fatalities in 2020. It’s far too easy to sideswipe a car, hit a pedestrian, or even cause a fatal accident when the driver’s attention is elsewhere.
This number is far too high considering how preventable these deaths are with simple regulations like Section 316.305. Every day, nine people are killed and over a thousand injured due to distraction-related motor vehicle collisions in the United States, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
These are all risks that can be mitigated with laws against distracted driving (such as Section 316.305).
In addition to physical risks associated with distracted driving, motorists who are caught violating the texting and driving laws may face additional consequences such as hefty fines, license suspension, or even jail time, depending on the severity of the offense.
As technology develops and becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, it is important to remember the potential risks associated with distracted driving. The consequences of violating section 316.305 of the Florida Statutes are serious and can have a lasting financial and emotional impact.
If your injuries were caused by someone else’s carelessness, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from the liable person. With assistance from our experienced Tampa car accident attorneys at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, you can receive the help and support needed to file your injury claim related to a car accident. Our team is dedicated to helping you get the compensation that you deserve!
Federal Communications Commission. (2021).