New laws allow the police to stop motor vehicles and issue citations for texting and driving. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email, and instant message.
When Did it Become Illegal to Text and Drive?
On July 1, 2019, section 316.305, Florida Statutes, was amended to allow law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations for texting and driving.
What Are the Penalties for Texting and Driving?
Any person caught texting and driving commits a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation. Any person who commits a second violation within 5 years of a prior conviction commits a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation.
What Is the Basic Difference Between a Nonmoving and a Moving Violation?
There are two basic types of traffic tickets in Florida, moving violations and nonmoving violations. Points are not assigned for nonmoving violations. Points are assigned for moving violations, and your driver’s license can be revoked or suspended if you accrue too many points over a certain period.
When Did it Become Illegal to Use a Wireless Device in a School and Work Zone?
On October 1, 2019, section 316.306, Florida Statutes, became law (School and work zones). A person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone area. During the period from October 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, a law enforcement officer may stop motor vehicles to issue verbal or written warnings to persons who are in violation of the statute.
When Will the Police Begin Issuing Citations for School and Work Zone Violations?
Effective January 1, 2020, a law enforcement officer may stop motor vehicles and issue citations to persons who are driving while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner.
Can a Law Enforcement Officer Take My Wireless Device Without a Warrant?
A law enforcement officer who stops a motor vehicle for a wireless device violation must inform the driver of his or her right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device. An officer may not:
- Access the wireless communications device without a warrant.
- Confiscate the wireless communications device while awaiting the issuance of a warrant to access such a device.
- Obtain consent from the motor vehicle operator to search his or her wireless communications device through coercion or another improper method.
Only in the event of a crash resulting in death or serious bodily injury may a user’s billing records for a wireless communications device, or the testimony of or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages, be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine whether a violation has been committed.
What Are the Penalties for School and Work Zone Violations?
Any person who violates this section commits a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation, and shall have 3 points assessed against his or her driver’s license. For the first offense under this section, in lieu of the penalty and the assessment of points, a person who violates this section may elect to participate in a wireless communications device driving safety program. Upon completion of such program, the penalty and associated costs may be waived by the clerk of the court and the assessment of points must be waived.
What Are the Dangers of Texting and Driving?
Texting and driving distract a driver visually, manually and cognitively. Texting and driving is a dangerous distracted driving behavior. Accidents happen when a driver does not focus on the road.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
Fernandez & Hernandez are advocates for those injured by distracted drivers. If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver and need help getting compensation for your injuries, call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813 229-5353.