A new law on texting and driving in Florida. Don’t we already have a law making texting and driving illegal? Do we really need a new one? The answers to both questions is YES.
Presently, it is against the law to text and drive in Florida. Under Florida Statute 316.305, Wireless communications devices; prohibition, it is illegal for a person to “operate a motor vehicle while 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 nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging. Sounds good, right? Well, the present law lacks bite.
Under Florida Statute 316.305(5), enforcement of this law is limited. Police can only enforce this law as a secondary action when an operator of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of another provision of this chapter. This mean, even if the police sees the driver texting and driving, he or she cannot pull them over unless the driver is in violation of another statute. Florida is one of just five states where texting and driving is not a primary offense. This may change.
According to Tampa Bay Fox 13, state legislators are looking to beef up the laws in the next year. Lawmakers recently have filed new bills that would give law enforcement the power to pull a driver over simply for texting. House bills 47 and 69 would also double fines in school zones and make texting while driving a primary offense for drivers under 18.
According to the article, the statistics indicate that there is a need for change. In 2015, there were 3,896 distracted driving car accidents in Hillsborough County and 11 deaths (the number is likely higher because most wrong-doers would admit that they were distracted). Statewide, there were more than 45,000 crashes and nearly 200 deaths due to distracted driving.
Stay tuned to my blogs for developments on these potential changes to the law. In the meantime, drive safely and watch out for those who don’t.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.