Can I text at a red light in Florida?: South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney talks traffic crimes
Most of us might be familiar with the texting and driving laws in South Florida, which began to be seriously enforced in 2020. But, while we are clear that we cannot text and drive, what happens when the vehicle is not moving and we are behind the wheel? Can we text when waiting for the green light?
Yes, you can text at a red light in Florida.
It is not illegal to text at a red light. The statute states “a motor vehicle that is stationary is not subject to the prohibition,” so you can text while at a red light or any time when your vehicle is not being operated.
Texting while driving in Florida... that's a whole other story:
We’re all likely guilty of breaking this new Florida traffic Law.Back on July 1, 2019, a new Florida Law, which made texting and driving a primary offense, came into effect. This means police officers will now be enforcing the law and can pull you over for just texting as of January 1.
According to the 2019 Florida Statute, a person cannot drive while “manually typing or entering letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters” into a phone. Similarly, they must not be using “communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, or instant messaging.”
Consequences for violating the Florida Texting and Driving law
A first offense for texting and driving can result in a $30 fine, while a second offense may result in a $60 fine. Additionally, points will be added to people’s licenses and court costs may increase the fine to $108.
There are also some unintended consequences of this law. There is no real, accurate way to prove a person was on their phone at the time they were pulled over, because body cameras are not enacted until the actual stop. This can turn into a method for police officers to pull people over and cite the reason as texting, then starting late night DUI investigations and leading to the illegal arrests of hundreds of people.
We fear Florida's texting and driving law could become another way that police have unjust and race-based policing efforts.
What to do if cited for texting and driving in South Florida
If you are pulled over by police and cited for texting and driving, you should always be calm and polite to the police. You have the right not to say anything to them, and you should not feel pressured into admitting guilt.
Most importantly, if you do get ticketed for texting and driving, you should hire an experienced Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney, like the ones at the Rossen Law Firm, to help represent your case.