Happy New Year! Texting and Driving Tickets Are Here
The Miami Herald recently reported that Florida Highway Patrol troopers and other law enforcement agencies are now ticketing drivers who are caught texting and driving. As of Jan. 1, 2020, drivers who are caught texting while driving will receive a ticket instead of a warning. The tickets are the final phase of a new law the governor signed in May 2019 that made texting while driving a primary offense. While texting and driving has been illegal in Florida for years, under the prior law, police couldn’t stop drivers for this behavior unless the driver was pulled over for something else such as speeding.
Understand That the Grace Period For Warnings is Over
In July 2019, the new law went into effect which made texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that authorities could pull over a driver strictly for texting and driving. The law also gave law enforcement agencies the option to give drivers a grace period through December 31st. During that grace period, troopers and officers could pull drivers over and give them a verbal or written warning instead of issuing a ticket.
Statistics from this period indicate that the new law hasn’t stopped this risky behavior. For example, the Florida Highway Patrol indicated that it issued more than one thousand warnings for texting and driving from July 1st through December 30th.
What Should Drivers Remember About Texting and Driving at this Point?
- Handsfree doesn’t count. The law does not bar drivers from being able to use their phone’s Bluetooth-enabled GPS, make hands-free phone calls and read emergency messages, such as weather alerts.
- Some areas are more strict than others. Specifically, texting and driving is generally forbidden entirely in school and work zones. In those areas, drivers cannot legally text, type an address into their GPS or do anything else that requires them to touch a phone, unless it is an absolute emergency.
- It remains dangerous and if possible, should be avoided altogether. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds and that at 55 mph, that is the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In lieu of that, while tragic, it is unsurprising that more than 1,000 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver in this country every single day.
Are You the Victim of an Accident You Suspect Was Caused by Distracted Driving?
As the Fort Myers personal injury attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm, we are accustomed to dealing with negligence in the scope of newer areas of law and we can adapt in the ways needed to successfully support those we help. Many people have relied on our experience over the years in order to get the compensation they deserve for their harm and you can depend on us to help you. Contact us today so we can review the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Orlando, Tampa, Ocala, Bradenton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville and Daytona Beach areas.