Are you aware of Florida’s new Wireless Communications While Driving Law?
The law, which took effect on July 1, 2019, has serious implications for anyone operating a motor vehicle in Florida. To sum it up, it is now illegal to text while driving. However, the law does provide some exceptions, which we will outline below, along with what to do if you get pulled over for texting while driving.
What Is the Wireless Communications While Driving Law?
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law, also known as Florida Statute 316.305, allows law enforcement to issue a citation to any person manually typing on a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.
A wireless communication device is defined as any electronic device that can be held in your hand, such as a cellphone, tablet, or smartwatch. As the law applies to manually typing, and not just texting, instant messaging apps, social media posts, and emails are also considered a violation.
For the first offense, there is simply a $30 fine (court fees not included). A second offense within five years incurs double the fine, and you’ll lose three points off your license.
A citation in a school or work zone also incurs a double fine and a three-point deduction, regardless of whether it is the first offense.
Many of us use our cell phones as navigation devices. The law does not prevent you from continuing to do so as long as you do not manually enter data while driving.
Make sure you have your destination set on your phone’s navigation before you begin your journey. If you need to change destinations while driving, either use your navigation system’s hands-free option or have a passenger change it for you.
That way, there is no chance that an officer will mistakenly ticket you under the Wireless Communications While Driving Law.
2. Safety-Related Information
You are allowed to receive safety-related information on your wireless device. That includes things like emergency weather notifications and Amber alerts. It also includes information related to the operation of the motor vehicle.
You can use your device to report suspicious or criminal activity to law enforcement, as well.
3. Self Driving Cars
You can still text while driving if you have a self-driving car and do so while the autonomous driving feature is engaged.
4. Emergency Personnel
Police, fire, and medical personnel may send and receive texts as long as the information conveyed is a part of their official duties.
What to Do If You Get Pulled Over for Texting While Driving
If a police officer pulls you over for texting while driving, it’s essential to know your rights. Remember that while a police officer has the authority to issue you a citation, you can always contest it later in court.
As a rule, when experiencing a traffic stop and dealing with law enforcement in general, it’s important to remain calm. As with any moving traffic violation, keep both hands on the steering wheel until the officer asks you for your license and registration. Only then should you reach into the glove box.
Be cooperative and respectful when dealing with law enforcement but know your rights and exercise them. One of those rights is your right to refuse a search of your car and cellular device.
The police should inform you that you have the right to refuse a search of your cellular device, but this is not always how it plays out in real life. If an officer asks to see your phone, politely refuse.
Remember: you must consent to your device being searched by law enforcement and that consent must be given voluntarily.
Car Accidents and Texting While Driving
While the penalties under Florida’s new driving and texting law may seem minor, in the event of an accident, a citation for texting can be used as proof of fault.
If you need a car accident lawyer in Miami, you can count on Menendez Trial Attorneys. Our team will help you form a solid legal defense, including fighting a citation under the Wireless Communications While Driving Law if necessary. Call us now for a free consultation at (305) 376-7689.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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