Like many states throughout the country, Florida has recently imposed stricter laws regarding texting and driving. The new law makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning drivers can be pulled over for the sole violation of illegally using their phones behind the wheel.
Under current law, texting while driving in Florida is only a secondary offense, meaning drivers could only be pulled over for the offense if they were also doing something else illegal, like speeding. There are other nuances of the new law, but the most important aspect to understand is that texting and driving in Florida will land you with a ticket if you’re caught — and for good reason.
On May 17, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the law that will crack down on distracted driving. Starting July 1, it will be a primary offense to text, instant message, email or otherwise send or read text communications while driving. In addition, starting October 1, using your phone at all when you are in school or construction zones will be illegal. However, there will be an educational period until January 1 when only warnings will be imposed.
It’s important to note that you can still use hands-free devices while you are driving, no matter what driving zone you’re in. Additionally, you are still allowed to use the GPS system on your phone while you’re driving — but you’re better off inputting your destination’s address before you take off.
For a first offense, you will be fined $30, plus court costs and fees. If you are caught for a second or subsequent time in five years, it is considered a moving violation, and the fine is doubled to $60. Additionally, three points will be added to your license each time you are charged.
Unlike other states, you can still make calls on your phone (unless you are in a restricted area). In addition, you can still text if you are stopped at a red light or are otherwise stationary.
As car accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, we have seen too many wrecks caused by texting and driving. In 2018 alone, there were more than 52,000 car accidents caused by distracted driving. In Palm Beach County, there were 2,509 distracted driving accidents that year, causing 134 incapacitating injuries and three deaths.
Even if there were no law in effect, it is vital for drivers to put down their phones, turn down the radio and pay full attention to the road. Looking away from your phone to text while driving at highway speeds, you can travel upwards of 300 yards without awareness of the road ahead of you. It’s no wonder distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Palm Beach County caused by a distracted driver, you have legal rights. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our experienced attorneys have recovered over $1 BILLION on behalf of our clients. Give us a call today at 800-916-8108 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of car accident lawyers in West Palm Beach today.