Texting and Driving – What We Have Learned in the First Month of Florida’s New Ban on Texting While Driving
As of July 1, the state of Florida implemented a new texting and driving law that is intended to change how drivers operate in the future. Now that the law has been in place for over a month, we can begin to recognize some of the differences between the old law and the new one as well as what we have learned so far about what started as gray areas for the new statute.
What is the Big Difference Between the New Law and the Old One?
Prior to the new law, Florida’s previous texting and driving statute only enabled law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue texting while driving citations as a secondary offense, meaning that a driver had to already be doing something that gave authorities had some other legal reason to pull the driver over. As of July 1st, texting while driving is now a primary offense in the state of Florida, meaning you can be pulled over solely based on this behavior. And while officers are primarily giving out citations for this offense from now through the end of the year, they technically have the right under the law to issue citations at this point.
What Have We Learned so Far?
The TC Palm recently reported that patrols across the state have already been issuing warnings and a limited number of tickets so far as drivers become more acquainted with the law. The news outlet also reported updates on several gray areas of the statute including:
Whether your behavior is a violation of the law depends on where you’re physically located and what you’re doing. For example, you should understand that a driver is not required to hand his or her phone to the officer and cannot be fined for texting at a stoplight (unless it is under a distracted driving law violation). Additionally, you generally can’t be fined for using a navigation app.
It’s more expensive than what was originally reported. The first reports concerning the new statute typically stated the amounts of the fines, but we are now finding out that these reported amounts did not include the additional fees. A practical example of this is the fact that the first offense is officially listed as having a fine of $30, but court costs and county fees push that total to $119 in Brevard County and $113 in St. Lucie County. A second offense starts at $60.
It’s easier to detect at night. Consider yourself to have been forewarned. Nighttime can make it seem like it is easier to get away with illegal practices such as texting while driving. However, the glow of a cell phone actually makes it easier for authorities to spot texting and driving. Don’t underestimate this.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in an Accident Because the Driver Was Texting?
Despite the many campaigns that have appeared on TV and in the media warning of the dangers of texting and driving and the new law here in the Sunshine State, people continue to text while they are behind the wheel. Sadly, this kind of distracted behavior while driving can result in tragic consequences including life-changing injuries. Therefore, you need to obtain legal help from someone who can help ensure that you hold the accountable parties responsible if you have been injured in this kind of scenario. You can depend on the South Florida distracted driving attorneys at Leifer & Ramirez to provide the experience you need to help you obtain compensation that you are entitled to. Contact us for help today.