There’s no doubt that driving while distracted by your mobile device is a dangerous habit for Florida drivers. The roads in Tampa and Florida are already dangerous enough with drivers who often make poor choices on the road. It’s important to understand the repercussions of not putting your device down while you are driving (doing something that requires your full, undivided attention). Florida in the past year has taken more action to combat the growing number of accidents and ultimately fatalities that have become an upward trend in recent years due to distracted driving.
“Using a [mobile device] is a dangerous distraction for drivers,” City of Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan explained. “There has never been a text message sent or received that is important enough to endanger an innocent life.”
Notable Accidents Around Tampa
- Vehicle vs. Pedestrian Accident: 21-year-old Jonathan Gray was killed in June 2018 in Hudson, FL while walking home from work.
- Vehicle vs. Vehicle Accident: 9-year-old Logan Scherer was killed on I-75 near Brooksville in September 2016 when a driver on his cell phone rear ended a SUV.
What is the New Florida Law?
Last year in 2019, Florida unveiled a new texting law that is meant to punish those who distract themselves by typing on the electronic devices while operating a vehicle. In a bill signed by Governor DeSantis, any type of texting on a mobile device behind the wheel can be probable cause for a law enforcement officer to pull you over. When pulled over, you will be given a citation (as it is now a primary offense in the state of Florida).
If you do happen to get caught, your first texting offense will amount to $30 and the subsequent court fees. The second violation will be more severe with a $60 fine along with court costs and three points on your driver’s license. If it’s your first offense in a school or construction zone, however, that will lead to points on your license as well. First offenders can purchase hands-free Bluetooth devices, show proof of purchase, and complete a “Driver Safety Education” course in order to avoid fines and license penalties.
Using Cell Phones While Driving in Florida – What are Exceptions to the Law?
It’s important to note that you can still use GPS while driving if you are navigating as well as be on a call with someone else. Concerning what you can’t do; it’s not just sending a quick text, the law states that it bans “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication.” In other words, the law covers anything from an email to posting a quick update on a social media platform, such as Facebook.
About Franco Law Group P.A.
With over 20 years of experience, our attorneys are dedicated to helping the injured and disabled. If you were involved in an accident, even one involving someone on their cell phone, then we are here to help. We have proudly been serving the injured and disabled in the Tampa metro area for over twenty years.
If you have any questions or concerns about accidents involving distracted driving, please feel free to contact us anytime at (813) 873-0180.