Mark Roman | December 8, 2021 | Car Accidents
States continue to grapple with regulating cell phone use while driving, which means that related laws are frequently subject to changes and updates.
Currently, Florida laws on cell phone use while driving are more lenient than those of many other states. In Florida, texting while driving is illegal, but talking on the phone hands-free while driving is still generally permitted. Read on for more information about recent changes to Florida laws.
Texting and Driving in Florida
Thanks to the 2021 passing of the Florida ban on texting while driving, the practice is now illegal in the State of Florida. This law applies to texting, emailing, or performing any other type of direct messaging.
If law enforcement officers see you texting while driving, they may pull you over and issue a citation for a non-criminal traffic violation. However, law enforcement is only allowed to obtain a warrant for cell phone records if texting while driving caused an accident resulting in death or personal injury.
Although texting and driving are illegal, Florida drivers are still legally permitted to use cell phones for purposes that are unrelated to communication, such as accessing GPS or navigation apps or reading emergency notifications like weather alerts.
Primary Offense Upgrade
In the past, texting while driving in Florida was only a secondary offense. This meant that you could be issued a citation for texting while driving only if an officer had another reason to pull you over.
In 2019, texting while driving was upgraded to a primary offense. Law enforcement officers can now pull drivers over simply if they suspect them of texting while operating a motor vehicle.
Legal Consequences of Phone Use While Driving
Being aware of changes to the law can help you avoid fines and other legal difficulties. Currently, a first offense citation of texting while driving in Florida results in a $30 fine. A second offense brings a $60 fine, a court appearance and costs, and three marks against your driver’s license.
If you are involved in a car accident while using your cell phone, you may have a personal injury case brought against you. These can have wide-ranging and potentially expensive consequences, depending on the extent of the injuries or damages.
Talking on the Phone and Driving in Florida
Talking on the phone while driving is still legal in Florida. However, if you are involved in an accident while talking on the phone, you may be found at fault for distracted driving.
In the event of an accident, your phone records could be used in court to establish fault.
When is Talking on the Phone and Driving Illegal?
Although talking on the phone is generally legal, drivers should be aware of special exceptions. In certain areas, talking on the phone can still bring fines and citations.
In some areas where children or workers are likely to be present, a higher degree of care is expected of drivers.
- School zones
- School crossings
- Active work zones
The penalty for talking on the phone while driving in these areas is immediately equivalent to a second offense texting citation—a minimum fine of $60 along with court costs and three marks against the license.
Know the Risks of Cell Phone Use While Driving
Although Florida laws are more lenient than those of many other states, any form of cell phone use while operating a vehicle can contribute to distracted driving. The consequences of using a cell phone while driving can range from a small fine to a fatal accident.
While talking on the phone is still legal in Florida, it’s also distracting and potentially dangerous. Drivers should minimize distractions from cellular devices while operating a vehicle.
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