Florida enacted a texting and driving law on October 1, 2013, making it illegal to send a text on your cellphone while driving. Concerned with the number of car accidents resulting from cellphone usage, lawmakers passed this law hoping to drastically reducing injuries and fatalities. However, recent studies suggest the law needs more work.
According to Tampa Bay Fox 13’s recent study, only 803 citations have been issued since the law was passed, leaving many questioning the law’s effectiveness.
Problems with Florida’s Texting and Driving Law
So why isn’t the law working? Well, one popular explanation is that it’s considered a secondary offense. What does that mean, exactly? Simply put, a police officer can only issue a texting and driving citation if the driver of the vehicle has been pulled over for something else.
If an officer notices a driver swerving in and out of lanes, for example, that counts as a primary offense. Once the driver has been pulled over, the police officer can then issue a texting and driving citation - but only if he can prove the driver was using his/her cellphone. Also keep in mind that the officer can’t get access to the driver’s phone records, unless the driver has been in an accident that resulted in an injury or fatality.
Can you see how it could get complicated?
Florida’s texting and driving law also allows drivers to text while stopped. So if they’re at a stop sign or stopped traffic light, it’s not considered a violation. Texting and driving becomes a secondary violation only when the vehicle is in motion. Also, drivers are allowed to use their cellphones for GPS and checking their email. So it isn’t very easy to determine the exact moment the line between checking the GPS and sending a text is crossed - especially for an officer who is at least eight feet away.
And then consider the fines:
- Your first offense = $30.00
- Your second offense = $60.00
Is that really big enough to convince people to wait until they’re off the road to send a text? What do you think?
As attorneys who represent clients involved in car accidents resulting from texting and driving, we understand the need for stronger laws and regulations. Our hope is that all Floridians are protected and can safely drive without the concern of being injured on the road. However, we also understand that accidents happen for a reason.
If you’ve found yourself injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, give us a call. We offer our clients ‘round the clock service to ensure you receive the service and justice you rightfully deserve.