Last summer, Florida became one of the very last states in the U.S. to adopt a traffic law that prohibits texting and driving. Distracted driving is one of the three leading causes of car accidents in the country, and texting is one of the most prevalent distractions in any vehicle. In July of 2019, the state implemented the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, which makes driving while texting a primary traffic offense.
Texting and driving hasn’t always been as strongly discouraged in Florida. Before the Wireless Communications While Driving Act became the law, police who pulled drivers over for a traffic offense, such as speeding or failing to stop at a stop sign, could add an additional citation if the driver was caught texting, making texting while driving a secondary traffic offense that could only be punished in connection to another violation. As of January 1, 2020, police officers have the full ability to issue citations for texting and driving on its own.
What are the details of the Wireless Communications While Driving Law?
While Florida has not outlawed merely holding a phone while driving, motorists are encouraged to use hands-free devices, and these are mandatory for communicating while driving through a school zone, construction zone, or a school crossing zone.
Motorists cannot do any typing on their phones at any time except when they’re stopped at a red light. By law, “typing” is understood to be “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device.” Drivers may not send, receive, or read data on their cell phones while driving. This includes reading or sending emails and direct messages. GPS and other navigation systems may be used, and drivers may also check safety alerts.
What happens if I get caught texting and driving in West Palm Beach?
A citation for texting and driving in Florida may not cost much money in terms of fines, but it can do damage to your driving record if you’re convicted and receive points against your license. A first offense of texting and driving may lead to:
- A $30 fine plus court costs
- One point against your driver’s license
If police catch you texting and driving again within 5 years, the penalties increase to:
- A $60 fine plus court costs
- Three points against your license
Eventually, enough license points in Florida may lead to a license suspension, which can have a severe and negative impact on your day-to-day life. Being caught driving with a suspended license is a much more severe traffic violation that may require the expert counsel of a traffic lawyer in West Palm beach.
Considering the average American spends roughly 87 minutes in their car each day, it’s important to be mindful and cautious when driving and to fight the urge to check your phone. You should also avoid the urge to engage in a text conversation at a stoplight. Even though checking your messages is permitted, you may be stopped and penalized for continuing to text or read messages when the light turns green.
How can I avoid a license suspension after getting points for texting and driving?
In many cases, working with an experienced traffic lawyer can help you avoid penalties to your driving record. An attorney can look at all the facts of your citation, investigate the officer’s actions, and review your driving history to argue against the charge. With a strong defense, it may be possible to have your ticket dismissed.
Who can I turn to for help after a texting and driving traffic ticket?
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has extensive experience fighting traffic charges throughout Palm Beach County. He has 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer and understands what it takes to challenge charges that can negatively impact your life, from traffic violations to capital offenses. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form for a free consultation.