Florida’s Texting and Driving Law

Car Accidents

National and insurance industry surveys often rank Florida as having a lot of bad drivers based upon statistics of the number of accidents involving fatalities and property damage. Some surveys use individuals’ responses to questions about driving habits while others use information gathered on traffic tickets. Some people have commented that there’s a lack of courtesy or that aggressive driving is a problem. Commenting members from the Florida Highway Patrol suggest that distracted driving is to blame for many of Florida’s accidents.

How Does Florida’s Texting And Driving Law Work?

While I do not disagree that a lack of courtesy or aggressive driving are problems, the purpose of this entry is to discuss the legality of Florida’s so-called texting and driving law. The law can be found in section 316.305, Florida Statutes and is officially called the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” It states:

(3)(a) 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. As used in this section, the term “wireless communications device” means any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet or any communications service as defined in s. 812.15 and that allows text communications. For the purposes of this paragraph, a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated and is not subject to the prohibition in this paragraph.

Interpersonal Communication

Many people may not realize about the texting and driving law is that it doesn’t just apply to texting (or iMessage-ing, etc.). Instead, it applies whenever you are manually typing for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including but not limited to texting, email, and instant message.

Further, many people may also not realize that a citation requires a “purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication.” Therefore, if you are using your phone for GPS, music, or Pokemon Go (hopefully not), then you cannot properly be cited for use of your device because the purpose of the use is not interpersonal communication.

While lawmakers may be have good intentions when they write a law, the laws that they write may not necessarily be good policy. The texting and driving law as we have it is very difficult for law enforcement to enforce because it cannot be a primary violation (only after getting pulled over for something else) and the evidence of use is apparent. To have a more meaningful law in Florida, police should have the benefit of a statute that enhances the penalty for careless driving when an electronic device is in use, regardless of purpose.

Contact A Central Florida Texting And Driving Attorney For Help With Your Case

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident involving texting and driving, please contact a personal injury attorney handling texting and driving accidents for a free case evaluation.

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