In Florida, texting behind the wheel is what is known as a “secondary offense.” This means that the police cannot pull a driver over because he or she is texting. If a driver is committing another offense (such as speeding) while texting, then the police can issue tickets for both offenses. However, texting alone currently is not enough to get a dangerous driver to the side of the road.
If you think this sounds strange, you are not alone. Florida is one of only five states in the country where texting while driving is not a primary offense, and the statistics show that texting behind the wheel is an issue that needs to be addressed. Texting drivers injure and kill innocent victims every day, and data from the National Safety Council indicate that one out of every 20 auto accidents involve texting.
This amounts to hundreds of thousands of accidents every year.
New Bills Would Make Texting-and-Driving a Primary Offense in Florida
Members of the Florida House have recently introduced two new bills that would make texting behind the wheel a primary offense. House Bill 47 would apply to all drivers, and would also double the penalties for texting while driving in school zones and at school crossings for drivers with prior texting-while-driving convictions in the previous five years. House Bill 69 focuses on teen drivers, making texting behind the wheel a primary offense only for drivers age 18 and younger.
According to Carlos Smith, one of the co-sponsors of the bills, “There’s a direct correlation with smart phone usage while driving, and traffic fatalities and accidents and we have a duty to respond.”
If passed, the new laws would take effect on July 1, 2017. However, WFLA.com reports that similar legislative efforts to target distracted driving in Florida have failed in the past.
You can read the full text of the bills here:
What Does Florida’s Texting Law Mean for Accident Victims?
While texting while driving may not be a primary offense in Florida, this does not affect accident victims’ rights when it comes to seeking financial compensation for their injuries and losses. Regardless of the criminal penalties that apply, texting behind the wheel is still undeniably dangerous, and those who choose to put others at risk can be held financially accountable for their poor decisions. Distracted driving is negligent driving, and victims of texting-while-driving accidents can (and should) take legal action to enforce their rights.
Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. | Car Accident Lawyers in Destin, FL
The attorneys at Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A. bring decades of legal experience to representing car accident victims in Destin, Florida. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a collision caused by a distracted driver, our attorneys will work tirelessly to win the compensation you and your family deserve. To discuss your rights in a free and confidential consultation, call us at (850) 682-2757 or request an appointment online today.