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Texting and Driving

Florida Texting and Driving Laws

The Florida Legislature passed a widely discussed law in 2019 to reduce the amount of texting and driving occurring on Florida roads. The law officially began to see enforcement on January 1, 2020, it is important to be up to date on the law if you are going to be driving in the state of Florida. When passing the law, the Legislature cited possible issues impacted by texting and driving such as: safety for vehicle operators, vehicle passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, crashes related to text messaging while operating a motor vehicle, injuries, deaths, property damage, health care costs, health insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates. When asked to discuss the new law, the Governor’s office reported in 2016 alone, close to 50,000 traffic accidents and 233 deaths were caused by texting and driving in the state of Florida.

These concerns led to the passing of Florida Statutes § 316.305 and § 316.306, this criminalizes the use of a phone while driving for any purpose that includes physically typing out characters. This does not apply to hands-free uses but does apply to non-texting applications such as email and instant messaging. The law even includes use of other devices such as laptops, tablets or game systems. It just has to be a device that is “hand-held.”

Texting and Driving Arrest and Punishment

First and foremost is the police contact itself. Part of these new laws makes texting and driving a “primary” offense. This means that police can contact a driver for only seeing them text and drive. Previously it was a “secondary” offense, requiring a different crime or traffic violation to begin the stop and the investigation.

The Legislature at this point has not made texting while driving an arrest-able crime with a potential jail sentence, but penalties have been attached. If caught not using hands-free in a school zone or a road work zone, Section § 316.306 will result in a moving traffic violation with at least a $60 fine, plus court costs, fees and 3 points assessed against your driving privilege. The penalties are a bit less harsh for a first-time offender on a regular road. The fine for such an offender is a minimum of $30 and no points are assessed. This is considered a non-moving violation. A second time offender within 5 years will face the same penalties as a driver in a school or work zone, and may face an elevated fine in front of many judges, drawing ire from there being a previous offense.

Points assessed from driving while texting tickets can result in increased insurance, increased penalties on further tickets, or even license suspension. Twelve points in Twelve months results in a 30-day suspension. Eighteen points in Eighteen months results in a three-month suspension. Twenty-four points in thirty-six months results in a full one-year suspension. The penalties associated with texting and driving should not be taken lightly, it is highly recommended that you speak to an attorney if you are concerned about the ramifications of a texting while driving citation.

Texting and Driving Attorney in Tallahassee, FL

Don Pumphrey and the firm have years of experience representing defendants in traffic and criminal cases in Florida.  They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients, and will fight for the best possible disposition or dismissal in your Florida traffic citation. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with our legal team.

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