Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law
Florida Statute 316.305 is officially known as the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law. It is rare that vital legislation has a name so appropriate, so in sync with what it really means and the effect that it has on drivers. Nevertheless, please indulge me as I endeavor to parse (separate and identify key portions) the language of the law to provide my fellow Floridians with a better idea of what Florida Statute 316.305 means. Also, you might really want to know if texting while driving can lead to a traffic ticket, and we answer that question here as well. Read on folks!
First, it is generally the bedrock of any legislative enactment that the Florida Legislature will announce the recipients or groups that the bill applies to. Fla. Stat. 316.305(2)(a) provides that the texting while driving law is intended to allow for greater roadway safety for “all vehicle operators, vehicle passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other road users.” Other road users means anybody not explicitly mentioned. It is a catch-all provision designed to account for everyone and anyone not heretofore listed or explicitly announced. This is a legislative technique designed to incorporate the greatest number of individuals and groups.
Texting and Driving Florida, Traffic Ticket Attorney Lake County Florida
Really though, the Florida Legislature’s overarching purpose in passing this bill is to (paraphrasing sections 2(a-c)) prevent car crashes that result from a driver’s inattention on account of texting while driving. This includes (ideally) a diminishment of serious injuries, property damage, and as an intended positive consequence, a reduction in health care costs across the board due to the reduction in injuries caused and the accompanying decrease in the cost to insurers that may be passed along (trickle-down insurance economics) to the insured. Jonathan Jacobs is a traffic ticket attorney Lake County Florida.
Florida Ban on Texting
The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving section (2)(d) is of particular interest because it grants law enforcement officers (commonly abbreviated as LEOs) the power to stop cars when the driver is texting. NOT SO FAST. This is considered a mere secondary offense. In order for the police to make the stop and ticket/issue a citation to the driver, he/she must be in violation of a PRIMARY offense first. Generally, a police officer may not stop those texting while driving unless the texting driving is guilty (allegedly) of another traffic violation such as speeding, improper lane change, running a stop sign, driving while license suspended, reckless driving, etc. Distracted driving alone is generally not a pretext for a valid stop. Those primary offenses may lead to a traffic ticket citation being issued.
Texting and Driving Florida
Florida Statute 316.305(3)(a) then goes on to offer a broad-based definition of what the Legislature means by “texting while driving.” Texting while driving does not mean just texting, rather it refers to most applications of a cell phone while driving that involve taking one’s eyes off of the road, “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.” The lesson here is that texting while driving might not get you pulled over and ticketed by the police, but texting while driving could cause an accident, or an inadvertent violation of a traffic law that will potentially give the authorities cause to pull you over for both the primary offense and for texting while driving.
If this article about the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law has not impacted you by the purpose of the Statute alone, here is a statistic that may open your eyes. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2016 45,000 crashes were caused by “distracted” motorists last year in the State of Florida. There were 214 casualties as a result. This statistic should impress upon you the need to be conscious of drivers around you, and of the danger that results from texting while driving, which causes distracted driving.