What are the consequences of texting & driving in Florida? South Florida Criminal Attorney explains
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 looked at our cell phone while being behind the wheel.
But this is a serious, dangerous violation with consequences that can bring problems to your life. This has, in fact, become a primary traffic violation in Florida. The penalties for this crime depend on the type of offense for a particular individual:
- A first offense for texting and driving carries a $30 fine.
- 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.
And the reality is that we are all likely guilty of breaking this Florida traffic law. Since July 1, 2019, police officers can 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 January 1, police officers will now be enforcing this law and pulling people over for texting while driving.
Unintended consequences of Florida's new texting and driving law
Although this law is well intentioned and will certainly save lives, it has a number of things yet to be addressed. For instance, there is no real, accurate way to prove a person was on their phone at the time they were pulled over, since 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. After this, an officer could start a late night DUI investigation, leading to the illegal arrests of the person being accused.
We fear Florida's texting and driving law could even turn into an unjust and race-based policing effort.
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 officer. Remember you have the right to remain silent and you should not feel pressured into admitting guilt. You do NOT have to show them or give them your phone. Police don't have a right to search your phone without a warrant.
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 to protect your license from points.