Texting and Driving in Florida

Texting and driving gets a lot of attention around the country, particularly as a cause of far too many auto accidents and related injuries.
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In Florida, it is a violation of s. 316.305 of the Florida State Statutes to text while driving, although, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers know, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Knowing that there are exceptions to the rule does not mean that texting and driving is safe; doing is makes you 23 times more likely to crash your car than you would otherwise be. Still, knowing the specifics of the relevant law can make you more able to assert your rights should you ever have to.

S. 316.305, also known as the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” was drafted for the purpose of improving roadway safety for everyone on the road, for preventing crashes, deaths, property damage, healthcare costs, and auto insurance rates, and to authorize law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations as a secondary offense to people who are texting while driving.

Be aware that the fact that texting while driving is a secondary offense means you can’t be pulled over solely for that offense; if you are pulled over for something else, though, i.e. another violation of chapter(s) 316, 320 and/or 322, and you’re found to have been texting and driving, you can be issued a citation for the offense.

So, what does the law actually say? In essence, the law states that a person cannot operate a (a moving) motor vehicle while manually typing or entering “multiple letters, numbers symbols, or other characters” into a mobile phone or tablet, etc., or while sending or reading data on such device for interpersonal purposes (i.e., using e-mail, texting, and instant messaging, etc.).

As noted above, there are exceptions to this rule, fully outlined in the statute itself. The statute states that the above regulation doesn’t apply to a driver who is:

(a) performing duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle;
(b) reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities;
(c) receiving messages related to the operation or navigation of a vehicle (i.e., via a digital map or navigation app/device), safety-related information including emergency, traffic or weather alerts; conducting communication that does not require manual entry of multiple letters, numbers and/or symbols, except to activate/deactivate the feature or function;
(d) conducting wireless communication that doesn’t require the reading of messages; or (e) operating an autonomous vehicle, which via technology can primarily operate the motor vehicle in a manner a human being would otherwise need to.

Note that there are more detailed specifications entailed in the law, which can be accessed here.

For violating this provision of the State Statutes, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense attorneys know, a first offense will be a noncriminal traffic violation, punishable as a nonmoving violation (fines and court fees); a subsequent violation within five (5) years after the prior conviction of the same offense will have committed a noncriminal traffic violation, this time punishable as a moving violation (even more fines and court fees, and the addition points to your license, causing higher insurance rates).

If you’ve received a citation for texting while driving in Palm Beach, Broward and/or Miami-Dade County, please contact our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We can take care of your ticket so that you avoid the addition of points and reduce the risk of paying hundreds of dollars more in insurance premiums. We look forward to assisting you.

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