As the notifications on your phone go off, it’s endlessly tempting to pick up your phone and take a look while driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Despite the creation of the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law in 2013, there were over 48,000 distracted driving crashes in 2019. More than 300 people died in those accidents, and thousands more got injured. In response, the Wireless Communications While Driving Law landed on the books to further deter cellphone use. Here’s what you need to know about the changes and how to stay safe on the road.
Texting and Driving Laws in Florida
When the original texting while driving law went into effect in 2013, the state of Florida banned drivers from texting while behind the wheel. It prohibits you from typing and sending messages by text, email, or instant messenger while driving. You’re not even allowed to read messages that people send to you. It’s not just cell phones, either. The law refers to all wireless communication devices, including tablets, laptops, and even handheld gaming systems.
While all that’s still true with the law change in 2019, the update made texting while driving a primary offense. Previously, it was a secondary law, meaning that police officers couldn’t pull you over if they saw you texting while driving. Now, they can and will, especially if you’re even touching your phone while driving through school and work zones.
Florida Penalties for Texting While Driving
Starting January 1, 2020, police officers received the go-ahead to pull people over and ticket them for texting and driving anytime. The fine amount and points totals depend on how many times you’ve got texting and driving tickets in the past.
If you get busted texting and driving for the very first time, you can expect a $30 fine plus court costs and fees. For the first incident, the ticket will appear as a non-moving violation and won’t result in any points on your license.
Upon getting another texting while driving ticket within five years of the first, you’re in for a $60 base fine plus fees and court costs. Plus, it’ll show up as a moving violation and you’ll get three points on your driver’s license.
Any offenses beyond the second will result in even more points, putting your license in jeopardy. If you get twelve points within a single year, your license will get suspended for thirty days, and it just gets worse from there.
Police officers are also allowed to stop motorists and issue a citation if they see any cellphone use in school and work zones. For that offense, you’ll get a $60 fine, court costs and fees, and three points on your license.
If you are the cause of an accident while texting and driving, that will add six points to the violation (on top of what you'd receive for the crash itself). Keep in mind that stiffer traffic violations will also cause your insurance bills to go up.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving Violations
In the end, texting while driving is simply not worth the risk. Using a hands-free attachment is a great way to avoid the temptation of texts. Keeping your phone out of easy reach will help keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, not on your phone's screen.
Beyond that, it’s best to learn all the rules of driving on Florida roads, so you can keep your record squeaky clean. Taking the Florida Drug and Alcohol Test, or TLSAE course, and other driver's ed classes can help, especially if you don’t want to sit down with the law books.
All the courses from I Drive Safely present the laws in an easy-to-understand manner, so you don’t have to dig deep into the rules on your own. Plus, they’re designed to help you learn all the driving tips and tricks needed to stay ticket — and accident—free. To get started, all you have to do is register online, and then log in to study at your own pace. It’s that easy!