Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida since 2013, but law enforcement could only ticket you for it if they pulled you over for another violation. Not anymore. The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law went into effect July 1, but officers have been issuing warnings rather than ticketing drivers during a grace period which ends Dec. 31. After that, they will issue tickets.
What is/is not allowed
The law forbids texting, emailing and instant messaging—anything that involves you manually typing multiple characters into your phone.
You may still use your phone or GPS for navigation, but be sure to type in the address before you start driving. Use the voice feature so that you don’t have to look at your device while you’re on the road.
Hands-free requirements for certain zones
Another change is that while it’s still legal to talk on your hand-held phone while driving (though it’s not recommended), the new law prohibits using a hand-held phone if you are in a school zone or construction zone. If you use a hands-free device, you may still talk on your phone in one of these zones.
If you are stopped by law enforcement for texting, the police officer must inform you of your right to decline a search of your phone. He or she may not search your phone without a warrant, confiscate your phone while waiting for a warrant, or coerce you into allowing him or her to search your phone.
We all know how dangerous distracted driving is. In 2016, Florida had nearly 50,000 accidents caused by distracted driving (233 of which resulted in death), according to statistics cited by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And, of course, texting is not the only thing that can distract you from your driving. We at Lakewood Financial encourage you to abide by this law, as well as minimize any other activity that could distract you while you’re behind the wheel. Not only will you be more likely to avoid an accident that could harm you or others, you’ll also avoid getting ticketed for a violation that could raise your insurance rates.
Have a happy and safe holiday season!
Lakewood Financial is a locally owned, independent insurance agency, serving Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota, Bradenton, and surrounding communities. Please give us a call at 941-747-4600 or email us if you need any assistance with your personal or business insurance needs.