If I’m pulled over for texting and driving, can a cop search my phone?: NO, says Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney
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If I’m pulled over for texting and driving in Florida, can a cop search my phone?: NOPE, says Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorne
No, a cop cannot search your phone if you’re pulled over or caught for texting and driving. The Florida texting and driving law statute includes built-in safeguards to protect those who are pulled over, including the fact that an officer must inform you of your right to decline a search of your device.
It is illegal for a cop to access or search your cellular device without a search warrant.
Florida police also cannot confiscate your cell phone or device while waiting for a search warrant and cops cannot coerce you to submit to an unlawful search of your cell phone in Florida. If police ask to see or search your phone or your car, politely tell them "no."
Polie officers also cannot search your car in Florida without either a search warrant OR your consent. Even if you have absolutely "nothing to hide" - we suggest you still say "no" to a police search of your car and your phone, body, home, etc. It doesn't make you sketchy or suspicious. Saying no to an unwarranted (literally) search simply means that you know and are using your consitutional rights.
Every once in a while, even the safest of drivers divert their attention from the road to their phone screen when a new text message pops up.
Whether it's responding to an email or checking who saw your last Instagram story, most of us have tried to navigate traffic or change lanes while looking at our cell phone screens.
Back on July 1, 2019, a new Florida Law, which made texting and driving a primary offense, came into effect. This means police officers can now pull you over for just texting. In the past, texting and driving was a secondary offense and people could not be stopped for doing it alone. You needed to commit a specific traffic violation before being stopped and pulled over by law enforcement.
With the start of 2020, Florida police officers have finished their period of informing and educating the public about the new law. As of Jan. 1, police officers will now be enforcing the law and pulling people over for texting while driving.
To be pulled over by police for texting and driving in Florida, a person must actually have their phone in their hand. 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.
Unintended consequences of Florida's new texting and driving law
Although this law is well intentioned and will certainly save lives, as a criminal defense lawyer, I have some reservations about the law.
There is no real, accurate way to prove a person was on their phone at the time they were pulled over — body cameras would not be enacted until the actual stop. This gives police officers leeway to pull people over and cite the reason as texting, even if this was not truly the case. This could potentially turn into rouse to pull people over and start late night DUI investigations, leading to the illegal arrests of hundreds of people.
We fear Florida's texting and driving law could become another wey that police have unjust and race-based policing efforts.
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 Rossen Law Firm’s trained Criminal Defense Attorneys to help represent your case.
Rossen Law Firm’s legal team understands what's at stake when you’re charged with a crime in South Florida. We’re committed to defending you and protecting your rights. Our legal team is ready to create a customized strategy for your case to fight for the best possible outcome. We handle Criminal, DUI, Federal, Domestic Violence, Marchman Act & Baker Act cases and more.