Florida Texting Ban Takes Effect Tuesday Oct. 1
Gregg Hollander | October 1, 2013 | Personal Injury
Texting while driving is now illegal in the state of Florida. On October 1, state lawmakers put into effect a law that prohibits users from creating, sending or receiving messages on a mobile device whenever the car is in motion. Unfortunately this is only a secondary offense and officials are already looking to beef up the law.
According to the Bradenton Herald, state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, will hold a press conference to announce that she plans to file a bill to strengthen the state law.
Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers understand that it took the state of Florida about five years to get any kind of law on the books. In Sachs’ favor is the fact that the texting ban ultimately passed overwhelmingly: 39-1 in the Senate and 110-6 in the House. So tougher laws and punishments should be possible, right?
As of now, the new law does not let law enforcement officials pull over a driver only for text messaging behind the wheel. Because it is secondary enforcement, officials will have to witness the driver committing another offense, like speeding or running a red light, before they can be pulled over and ticketed for texting while driving. Even then, a driver will only be slapped with a $30 citation.
Florida is the 41st state to enact a ban on text messaging for drivers, but a majority of the other states have made this a primary offense.The legislation allows drivers to use messages to report emergencies or suspected criminal activities and receive messages related to navigation and emergency, traffic and weather alerts. It is also legal to receive messages as part of a radio broadcast and use voice technologies to send and listen to messages. Police and other emergency service providers are exempt from the law.Governor Rick Scott also vetoed a $1 million fund to promote the new law. There will still be message boards along highways and various school campaigns, but we could do better.
Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) have been conducting educational outreach at high schools across the state. The aim is to reduce the use of cellphones and other electronic devices while driving, as one in five of those distracted teens involved in fatal crashes were using cellphones or texting.
Just last year, close to 200 accidents saw texting drivers as a significant factor. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), that number is probably much higher as many drivers aren’t willing to admit that it’s their text messaging that caused an accident.The truth is in the numbers. According to the Virginia Tech Highway Institute, drivers are close to 25 times more likely to get into an accident when text messaging behind the wheel.
Not every function on your phone is forbidden. Drivers can still use phones for music, navigation apps, or to pick up a call.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a car accident, contact The Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.