Overview of Florida's Texting & Driving Laws

If you have been paying attention to the news over the past few years, you may know that in Florida, it is illegal to send text messages while driving. The law went into effect in October of 2013 and effectively bans drivers from manually entering any characters, symbols, or numbers into a device for the purpose of (but not limited to) sending a text, email, or another message. For more information on the specific language of this law, read Florida Statutes Title XXIII. Motor Vehicles § 316.305 online.

Despite the dangers involved with texting while driving and the distraction that it presents, Florida has only made it a “secondary” offense. This means that while it is against the law, a driver may only receive a citation or punishment for the act when pulled over for another, primary offense. In contrast, a primary offense is one for which an officer can stop a driver for directly. For example, law enforcement cannot cite a texting driver until that motorist is observed violating a primary law, such as running a stop sign or speeding.

How is texting while driving punished?

  • If the offense occurred in a school zone, two points may be added to a driver’s record.
  • If the offense resulted in a car accident, six points may be added to a driver’s record.

Why Is Texting While Driving so Dangerous?

Texting while driving can represent a tremendous distraction to drivers, pulling their attention away from the road and increasing the risk of an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) divides distractions into three categories: cognitive, visual, and manual. In other words, a driver can be distracted while looking, thinking about, or physically manipulating an object or stimulus unrelated to the act of driving. A motorist who sends a text might have their eyes and hands off the wheel while simultaneously thinking about the message they want to send. By the NHTSA definition, texting can distract a driver in all three categories.

It only takes a second for an accident to happen. A study out of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that on average, a motorist takes their eyes off the road for nearly five seconds at a time when sending a text. When traveling at speeds of 50 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to cross the length of a football field. There is no question about it, texting while driving puts everyone on the road at risk.

Injured in a Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and you believe that another driver was distracted or texting, Gerber Law wants to hear about what happened. We can review the accident with you to determine if another motorist’s negligence led to your crash and help you to understand your legal options. Our lead Sarasota personal injury attorney possesses more than two decades of legal experience and knows how to maximize the strength of your claim.

We don’t charge a fee unless we win your case. Request a free consultation with our firm today to get started.

Categories: Auto Accidents