New Florida Law Allows Use of Hazard Lights During Severe Weather

July 23, 2021 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

Florida, known for our severe weather patterns, strange crimes involving wildlife, and great sports teams, just implemented a new law that will save motorists money and stress! Approved by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 29th, 2021, new Florida law, Chapter No. 2021-188, allows Florida motorist to use their hazard lights during periods of heavy rainfall in limited circumstances.  This law officially went into effect on Thursday, July 1st 2021. Florida is now in the company of more than 40 other states who allow the use of hazard lights while driving in certain situations.

What Does the New Law Say?

The new law, Chapter No. 2021-188, was previously proposed as Senate Bill 1194. Under Section 1, subsection 5, you can read the pertinent provision, which states that Florida drivers may use their hazard lights when:

  • There is “extremely low visibility” on the roadway, and
  • The posted speed limit is at least 55 miles per hour.

This new law modifies Florida Statute 316.2397(7), which used to prohibit the use of hazard lights in the rain. Low visibility can arise from a range of severe weather patterns, including heavy fog, rain, or smoke.

What Did the Old Law Say?

The old law, codified in Florida Statute 316.2397(7) (2020), stated that flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except:

  • As a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway;
  • When a motorist intermittently flashes his or her vehicle’s headlamps at an oncoming vehicle notwithstanding the motorist’s intent for doing so; and
  • For the lamps authorized under subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), and (9) of Florida Statute 316.2065 or Florida Statute 316.235(6), which may flash.

Penalties for Disobeying the Law

Violating this statute constitutes a noncriminal traffic infraction, punished as a nonmoving violation as stated in Florida Statute 318.18. This statute provides that the penalty for a nonmoving traffic violation is $30.

Public Reception to the New Law

This law came as surprising news to Florida drivers who are used to the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles lambasting such behavior for years. Surprisingly, not all Floridians are welcoming this change to our motor laws. Bonnie Frank, the manager of the Florida Safety Council’s drivers’ education and testing program is definitely not a fan, stating that “The whole point of flashing lights is that you’re broken down or disabled. And hopefully on the side of the road.” In her eyes, this new law poses some significant dangers to motorists. She adds, “When your flashing lights are engaged, your blinkers do not work because both of them are already happening, so how do you know if they’re even going to go around?” Finally, she sums up her fear in stating that “people are going to say, ‘Well yeah, it’s raining and I can’t see, but I’ll just throw those flashers on and I can continue going 55 to 60 miles an hour and up.”

However, there definitely are proponents of the new law as well! Many Floridians are expressing relief and delight in the new law because in times of heavy rain, “where there is no good place to pull over, putting on your hazard lights makes it easier for other drivers to see them.”

This article was written by Gabi D’Esposito

gabi d'esposito pumphrey law


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