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Texting and Driving in Florida…What You Need to Know Now

legal-textingThe Florida legislature recently passed the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” This new law which goes into effect on October 1, 2013, prohibits operating a motor vehicle while typing, sending, entering or reading data including text messages, e-mails, and instant messages. The stated intention for this legislation is to prevent texting related vehicle crashes and personal injuries.

The law restricts much more than just texting. It prohibits most forms of nonvoice wireless communication that involve sending or viewing various messages including but not limited to text messages, emails, and instant messages. Some exceptions that are still permitted include hands free communications and emergency communications. A driver may also send or view messages while the vehicle is not moving.

The so called texting ban is a secondary traffic offense. The monetary penalty for violating this law is only $30 for the first offense. However, if you are involved in a traffic crash while using your phone in an unlawful manner, even if it is your first offense, you will be assessed a hefty 6 points against your license. In all likelihood, your insurance premiums will also increase significantly due to the nature of the violation and the number of points assessed.

The dangers of texting while driving are well documents and have become more severe in recent years with the increase in cellular phone and smartphone usage. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately two out of every three drivers admits to using their cellular phone when driving. While Florida has been slow to enact a texting while driving law, it now joins 45 other states which prohibit or restrict various forms of wireless communication while driving.

Be a safe driver and a good citizen. Don’t text or read messages while you are driving. It will prevent accidents and personal injuries. It might save a life, even your own.

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