3 Things You Need to Know About Florida’s Distracted Driving Laws
A 2017 study ranked Florida as the second worst city (Louisiana was first) in the nation for distracted driving. In 2016 alone, distracted driving accounted for 50,000 accidents—causing 233 deaths and serious injuries to 3,500 people.
At the time, Florida’s texting and driving laws could not be enforced as a primary offense—meaning that the police could not pull a driver over for the primary offense of texting and driving.
But all that has changed.
In 2019, Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving Law went into effect.
This is not to say that texting and driving was legal in Florida before this law went into effect—it was not. Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida since 2013. But the new law has made enforcement a priority: making it easier for the police to enforce the ban against texting and driving.
Is Texting the Only Form of Distracted Driving?
Of course not. Eating while driving, letting your poodle sit on your lap, putting on makeup, turning around to whack at or assist someone in the back seat—all of these constitute distracted driving.
And distracted driving, when not illegal like texting, is dangerous and negligent (e.g., eating, putting on makeup, or allowing the dog to sit on the driver’s lap).
Distracted driving, according to Florida’s Department of Transportation, (FDOT) is “anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the vital task of driving.”
According to the FDOT, there are 3 categories of distracted driving:
- Manual— Anything that causes you to take your hands off the wheel.
- Visual—Anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road.
- Cognitive—Anything that causes you to take your mind off of driving.
And it just so happens that texting and driving does all three.
Which is why it is the most dangerous form of distracted driving.
That’s why legislators have concentrated on cracking down on texting and driving.
Here are 3 Things You Need to Know About Florida’s Distracted Driving Laws
- Texting and driving is illegal.
Drivers in Florida are not allowed to use their cellphones or any handheld “wireless communication device” to text, email, Snapchat, or do anything that
involves physically “typing or entering… letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless device” while driving.
Nor are you allowed to “read” any data on a mobile device while driving.
This applies to anyone operating a vehicle on Florida’s roadways, highways, streets, and even alleyways.
- Texting and driving is now a primary offense.
Before the “Florida Ban on Texting and Driving Law” as it is known went into effect, texting and driving was a secondary offense. As we touched on above, this meant that a police officer could not pull you over and give you a citation for texting and driving unless there was also a primary offense like speeding.
Now, however, if a police officer sees you texting and driving, he can pull you over and give you a citation.
- You Can Use Your GPS or Bluetooth
The law does allow a driver to use navigation guidance systems (GPS) and to make phone calls if using a hands-free device like a Bluetooth speaker or wireless headphones.
There are also limited exceptions that allow for the reporting of accidents or crimes.
Distracted driving is dangerous and leads to accidents. So don’t do it. Secure the dog, put down the apple, and don’t text and drive.
And if you are in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, our experienced personal injury team is here to help.
Florida Personal Injury Attorneys.
John Fagan and his experienced team are dedicated to helping those who have been injured due to the negligence of another. Contact us now for your free consultation or simply call our firm at: 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.