Distracted driving is a serious problem in the Sunshine State and around the country. What many people don’t realize, though, is that distracted driving is much more than just texting and driving.
It includes any time a driver uses a handheld device, cell phone, or headphones while behind the wheel. At Zimmet & Zimmet, our car accident attorneys can help you understand (and abide by) all of Florida’s driving and texting laws.
When you know the law and follow our recommendations, you can learn what type of phone use while driving will result in a ticket.
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Distracted Driving Defined
According to Florida laws, distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the task at hand – driving. This includes talking or texting on cell phones.
Today, the accessibility of mobile devices has increased distracted driving incidents, which is a serious problem among teen drivers.
The NHTSA has reported that distracted driving causes over 3,000 fatalities annually. Due to the impact of this type of driving behavior, Florida has strict rules and regulations regarding what is allowed and what is not.
Even though all types of distractions can occur behind the wheel, from talking to passengers in the back to adjusting the radio, mobile phone use is still one of the most dangerous actions. When drivers are on their phones while driving, they wind up taking their eyes and hands off the road. At this point, they are thinking about everything except driving (in many cases).
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Cell Phone Laws in Florida
Politicians have enacted several laws aimed at banning the use of cell phones by drivers.
Today, it is illegal to text with a handheld device while behind the wheel. It is also illegal to read something or search for information online while driving.In addition it is illegal for Florida drivers to use headsets, earphones, or headphones while driving.
Unfortunately, there are still some cell phone-related activities that are not illegal in Florida. An example is that it is not illegal to make or receive phone calls while driving (with some exceptions, which are discussed below). It is also still legal to use hands-free, voice-activated tech while driving.
The problem with statute 316.305 is somewhat deceiving. This is because it does not ban all types of texting activity. Also, the wording used in the statute is confusing because this ban does not apply to just texting. It bans any reading of electronic information while behind the wheel. To know when it is legal to use a cell phone while driving, you have to understand what is allowed and what is not.
Based on this law, a person is not allowed to operate a vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple characters into a phone, nor while reading or sending data on devices for non-voice communication, such as instant messaging, emailing, and texting.
Statute 316.306 states that wireless communication devices are prohibited in work and school zones. The ban includes texting and talking and applies to driving or if someone is stopped in these areas.
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Texting and Driving in Florida
It is important to note that any distraction while driving should be avoided. You need to keep all your focus on the road ahead. According to Florida law, you cannot do any of the following while driving:
- Send or receive instant messages
- Use social media
- Use apps of any type
- Send or read an email
- Send or read a text
- Use a GPS system
While this is true, not all types of texting and driving in Florida are banned.
The statutes are carefully worded to show that the only thing that is banned is manual data entry and using your hands or viewing data while behind the wheel. Voice texting and the use of voice playback of texted information are allowed.
What this means is that a passenger can read text messages and send a response to a driver. It also means that it is possible to use a device that allows talk to text and then play responses out loud. Some devices do this; however, the most common devices are those built into vehicles that connect to mobile devices via Bluetooth. The official name for this is “hands-free texting.”
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Specific Information About Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in Florida
Now that you have an overview of what is allowed and what is illegal, it is time to dive into the specifics.
Looking at Data
You cannot read data from a handheld device while driving. Specifically, it means you can’t look at electronic messages, apps, instant messages, social media, emails, or text messages.
You are allowed to view your GPS maps and directions while driving. You can only enter data into the GPS before you start driving and then look at the system while moving.
Phone Use While Stopped
The statutes ban the use of texting and reading electronic data while driving. If a vehicle is stationary or not being operated, it does not apply to the statute’s rules.
Accepting Phone Calls
You can legally talk on your phone while driving. While this is true, there are a few exceptions. The exceptions include talking in work zones when workers are present, school zones, or school crossings.
Use of Headphones and Headsets
You are not allowed to drive while wearing headphones, headsets, or other types of listening devices besides a hearing aid. This law applies to wired and wireless devices.
While this is true, you are allowed to use Apple AirPods, earbuds, earphones, headphones, and headsets if they are used while you can still hear sounds with your other ear. This means that you have the listening device in one ear, and the other is open to hearing road signs and signals.
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What Happens if You Break Florida’s Cell Phone Use Laws?
Texting and driving are considered a primary offense in the state of Florida. This means the police can pull you over and give you a ticket if you are seen violating these laws. However, a violation is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction that does not result in points being applied to your driver’s license for a first violation.
Your Rights if You Are Struck by a Distracted Driver
If you are involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses and injuries. At Zimmet & Zimmet, we defend those injured by distracted drivers, providing them with the legal services and solutions they need and deserve.
The first step is to contact our legal team to schedule a free consultation. We will provide you with information about your case and a path to move forward with a lawsuit.
Contact us today to learn about your rights after being struck by a distracted driver in Florida.