Did you know that Florida has a law against texting and driving?
It’s true. But you can be forgiven for not knowing that this law exists, because texting and driving is only a secondary offense.
What does that mean?
Our state’s government enacted the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law on October 1, 2013. It prohibits anyone from using a wireless communication device to type or enter multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters to communicate through texting, emailing, instant messaging, or some other similar method. So, according to the law, you can’t text and drive.
But because it is a secondary offense as opposed to a primary offense, you can’t actually be pulled over specifically for texting and driving.
Sounds silly, right? You can’t text and drive, but you also can’t be pulled over for texting and driving. So how is this law even enforced?
Current Texting and Driving Law
In order to be cited for texting and driving, you have to first be pulled over for a primary offense. Then – and only then – can you get a texting and driving ticket.
Let’s look at an example. A driver is speeding while also texting and driving. A police officer can stop the car for the speed violation – the primary offense – but in addition to a speeding ticket, the officer can also give the driver a texting while driving ticket – the secondary offense. But if the driver doesn’t break a primary traffic offense to begin with, then a police officer can’t pull that driver over at all.
While a secondary offense doesn’t carry the same penalties as a primary offense, you can still receive points on your license for texting and driving.
- First offense: No points
- School zone: If you were in a school zone, 2 points are added to the primary offense
- Crash: If the texting caused a crash, 6 points are added to the primary offense
- Second offense: 3 points
If someone gets 12 points in a year, their driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days.
Will Texting and Driving Become a Primary Offense?
Some legislators were hoping to change the current law to make texting and driving a primary offense as of October 1, 2016. Senate Bill 328 was filed last year and introduced to the senate in January. Unfortunately, the bill died in the Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee in March.
The law was written to prevent car accidents caused by texting and driving along with reducing injuries, deaths, property damage, health care costs, health insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates related to motor vehicle crashes.