Understanding Texting and Driving Laws in Florida

Reason for New Law

“I have to live the rest of my life without my daughter,” said Steve Augello, an activist for the “no texting while driving in Florida” law. Five years ago, Allie was involved in a fatal motor vehicle collision with another driver. Investigators concluded that the accident resulted due to the distraction of the other motorist who was texting and driving. Allie’s case is only one out of too many unfortunate cases resulting in personal injury or death due to the distraction of another driver. The U.S. Department of Transportation has revealed that in 2010, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle collisions due to these so-called “distracted drivers.” In 2011, this amount increased to a total of 416,000 people.

Scientists working for Direct Line auto insurance recently acknowledged that texting and driving could be more dangerous than driving under the influence. The research leading to this revelation included a simulator for the purpose of imitating a motor vehicle. Reaction times of drivers under the influence, and reaction times of drivers on their cell phones were compared. Specifically, the results yielded that reaction times of drivers on their cell phones is 30% slower than that of intoxicated drivers. Correspondingly, reaction times of drivers on their cell phones were 50% slower than that of regular drivers not under the influence and not on their cell phones.

It is undeniable that our society’s high interest for cell phones is playing a major role in the increase of accidents due to texting distractions. A cell phone this day and age is essentially a mini-computer. One can send emails, instant messages, texts, and more. With a majority of the states already banning text messaging while driving, it is not unusual that Florida has joined the no texting while driving bandwagon.

Clarity Regarding New Law

As of October 1, 2013, if a driver in Florida is suspected of committing a traffic violation while texting, said driver can be fined up to $60. In other words, a fine for texting while driving will only be imposed as a secondary offense when coupled with the suspicion of another traffic violation. The statute expressing this recent law is titled: “Wireless communications devices; prohibition.” The language used in the statute has the tendency to lead one to believe that the main issue is texting via cellphone while driving. Although cell phones are a part of the big problem, it cannot be ignored that there is a reason why the statute’s author used the broad term “wireless communications devices.” Thus, the statute supplies a definition for said term. A wireless communication device is any electronic device that can be held by hand and that serves as a portal for communication. It is true that cell phones win the gold medal for being the main problem, however, other devices such as I-Pad’s and mini-computers that can be held by hand and that serve as portals for communication, are also a part of the “distraction problem.”


The statute’s language expresses that no driver will be punished if the vehicle he is operating is parked or momentarily stopped (i.e., stationary). Thus, as previously referred to, only one that is simultaneously driving and texting, and deemed suspicious for committing some other traffic violation, is susceptible to punishment. Exceptions to the new law apply to law enforcement officials performing their duties and to persons communicating with law enforcement officials regarding suspicious activity. Also, one that is driving and receives information regarding an emergency, the weather, and/or traffic, is immune.

Repetition of Violation

The statute provides that if one is fined for more than one texting while driving violation within a five-year period, a moving violation will be imposed. A moving violation allocates points to the driving record of such violator.

Proving Cause of Accident

The billing record of a wireless user can only be used against him in the event of a motor vehicle accident caused by him while texting and driving, which results in personal injury or death. These records would be used in the legal proceeding as a source of evidence to prove the cause of accident.

Potential Changes

On the very day this law was enacted, Maria Sachs, a member of the Florida Senate, advocated for a “more stringent” law. She expects to have this more stringent law reviewed for consideration during the 2014 session. It is not surprising that activists’ like Augello agree with Sachs that this new law should be tougher. Sachs’s intent is to make texting while driving a primary offense, and to increase the amount that is fined for said offense.

Get Answers to Questions about an Accident

Our firm is in accordance with those whom have lost loved ones, and with those whom have been injured because of the distractions of others while driving. If you’ve been injured and feel it may have been due to the negligence of another driver, you should speak to an attorney. The Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys of Madalon Law are here to answer your questions and address your concerns. During your consultation, we will gladly explain what your options are at no cost. Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys fight for the rights of the injured throughout the state of Florida.