Texting and Driving in Florida: A Thing of the Past

by sem on April 4, 2013

Ban Texting and Driving

Is it illegal to text while driving in Florida? There is a lot of confusion about the legal status of cell phone use for calls and text messages while driving in the Sunshine State. Over the past several years, 44 states in the U.S. have enacted some form of “text and drive” law due to the proven statistical influence of cell phone use in car accidents.

So far, the state of Florida has not yet officially passed any laws targeting texting or talking on the phone while driving, but odds are good that it will not be long before Florida drivers can be pulled over and ticketed for cell phone use. Florida texting and driving laws are on their way to becoming a reality very soon with overwhelming support.

Primary or Secondary Offense?

Different bills have been introduced in Florida attempting to classify texting and driving as either a “primary” or “secondary” offense. The effect on Florida drivers may be very different depending upon which one passes.

If cell phone use while driving in Florida is considered to be a primary offense, it will mean that a cop can pull you over and ticket you for no other reason than seeing you using your phone while you drive. This ticket will include a fine and will add points to your driving record, which may require traffic school to be removed.

If texting and driving in Florida is considered a secondary offense, an officer will have to first have another reason for pulling you over (such as speeding) before citing you for your phone use. This might make Florida drivers far less concerned about violating the law, knowing they can’t be ticketed for it unless they are also breaking another law.

Is “Hands Free” the Way to Be?

In many states, the use of cell phones while driving is permitted so long as a hands-free device, such as Blue Tooth, is used to allow the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times. Many newer cars have voice-activated phone systems built into them that can make calls to specific numbers or contacts and answer incoming calls simply by using the right combination of vocal commands. Many modern cell phones have similar functions and features that now come standard on the device itself. It is possible that the state of Florida will include options for hands-free technology in the coming legislation.

So How Long Do We Have?

There’s no way to say for sure when any of the new laws regarding talking on the phone while driving in Florida will pass, but many people expect it could happen anytime in 2013. The legislative session begins this month, and it’s anyone’s guess from there. The issue is further complicated by the existence of Florida preemption laws which prohibit localities from banning “distracted driving” behaviors, of which texting while driving is one.

One thing is for sure, though: Florida drivers should start preparing to get their texting and calling done before they get in the car, or acquire the necessary hands-free equipment well ahead of time, or else they face the prospect of potentially hefty fines and lots of points on their driving records.

Related posts:

Comments are closed.