Understanding Texting and Driving Laws in Florida

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported 56,000 car accidents were caused by distracted driving in 2021. Over 300 of those crashes resulted in fatalities, the highest recorded number of deaths in eight years. Distracted driving is dangerous, but it can be avoided. Learn about Florida’s laws and regulations regarding distracted driving below.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes your attention away from the road. While texting and driving is a common form of distracted driving, there are several other reasons motorists become distracted on the road, such as tending to children and pets, eating, fatigue, grooming (like putting on makeup), adjusting the radio, or using a navigational system. Generally, there are three types of distracted driving: manual distractions, where your hands are taken off the steering wheel; visual distractions, where your eyes are taken off the road; and cognitive distractions, where your thoughts take your focus off driving.

Texting and Driving Laws in Florida

Of all types of distracted driving, a significant focus is placed on texting and driving. This is because texting while driving includes all three primary forms of distraction. In 2019, Florida passed the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, also known as the Texting While Driving Law. The stipulations of this law are detailed in Florida Statute 316.305. The law prohibits texting while driving and makes it a primary offense. This means you can get pulled over and given a citation for texting and driving. Before the law was passed, texting and driving was a punishable offense, but it couldn’t be the sole reason a law enforcement officer pulled you over. According to the law, texting is manually typing multiple letters, numbers, and symbols, reading, emailing, or instant messaging on a wireless device while operating a vehicle in motion.

There are a few specific circumstances when it’s legal to text while driving, including when:

  • Operating a navigation system.
  • Utilizing functions that allow your phone to go hands-free.
  • Using a wireless device while the car is parked or stationary.
  • Law enforcement officers perform official duties.
  • Someone reports criminal activity.

Penalties for Distracted Driving in Florida

Distracted driving is a basic moving violation. A first offense is punishable with a $30 fine. Getting caught twice within five years will result in three points added to your license and a $60 fine. If you’re caught texting and driving in a school or work zone, you’ll receive the penalty for a second offense, regardless of whether you’ve been cited for distracted driving before. These penalties are solely for distracted driving. If your distracted driving caused an accident with injuries or property damage, you could face other criminal penalties and civil action.

Badgley Law Group: Helping Injured Drivers in Orlando, FL

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving (or any other reason), we can help you receive compensation for expenses like medical bills and lost wages. Schedule a free consultation or call our office at 407-781-0420. Our offices are located in downtown Orlando, and we serve accident victims throughout Central Florida.

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