Update, July 1, 2019
The law surrounding texting while driving in Florida has been passed by the Governor and goes into effect today, July 1st. You can read all about the law in our article New Florida Cell Phone Law (2019).
Admit it or not, we have all done it. Driving to work, the store, any trip really. You look down at your phone to see a text message has been received. You look at that message and likely send a response. This may continue intermittently or constantly on your journey. During the messaging frenzy, your eyes have been affixed to your phone, ignorant of the cars, pedestrians, and obstacles that you may have (luckily) missed on the way. In addition to texting, the temptation of Twitter, Facebook, and general web browsing all beckon as you look at your screen.
While phone use while driving has become such a common practice, many are unaware of the true dangers of this activity. Just look at the statistics:
Under current Florida law, a driver cannot be pulled over for texting and driving. It is not a “primary” offense like speeding or running a red light. However, if during the course of being pulled over for a primary offense, you are seen using your cell phone, you can be written a ticket for its use as a “secondary” offense. Such tickets are rarely issued, however, as evidenced by the fact that for a firm that does a high volume of traffic ticket defense, we virtually never see texting citations.
Many states have already banned texting and driving. Florida has been one of the longest holdouts when it comes to considering an outright ban on this dangerous practice, but it may not be much longer that this is the case as it appears the law is soon going to change. Recently, the Florida House of Representatives passed House Bill 107 (2019). One of the provisions in this bill would make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that law enforcement would be able to make a traffic stop based on seeing you texting while driving and nothing more.
If passed, Florida will become the 44th state to impose such a ban, and the following rules and exceptions will apply:
The Governor will of course have to sign this bill into law. As of this writing, it is not clear if the bill has yet hit his desk for his consideration and signature. There are a flurry of bills that hit his desk at the end of every legislative session, so it is tough to know the exact date he may sign it. It seems very likely he will sign this legislation, but of course he could choose to veto it.
Should this law pass and you be cited for texting and driving, please be sure to contact our office. Since this law will be new, it will be interesting to see how strictly it is going to be enforced in terms of number of citations issued as well as variations in fines and costs. As is the case with all of the traffic cases we handle, we will be sure to look for any and all challenges and defenses to this law.
While a traffic offense may seem minor in nature, penalties such as points and convictions can lead to insurance premium increases or even license suspensions in extreme scenarios. Additionally, the amount of fines and court costs can be great depending on the violation and the outcome of the hearing. Please let our team of dedicated defense attorneys help you with these matters to hopefully avoid any serious penalties. Quite often, we can avoid the imposition of points as well as negotiate a reduced fine. In the best case scenario, we may even be able to get your ticket dismissed.