There is no doubt that distracted driving is a serious issue. Every day across the United States and Florida, people end up in serious motor vehicle crashes and collisions as a result of distracted driving. In order to reduce the risk on the road, Florida enacted a law that prohibits texting while driving. Law enforcement often takes steps to enforce this statute, but sometimes innocent people end up facing a serious ticket.
While no one should choose to drive distracted, those who did not actually break the law shouldn’t face penalties over a mix-up or mistake. Understanding the law is the first step to determining if you can contest a pending ticket issued for texting while driving.
Understanding what Florida law actually prohibits
This Florida law is specific and completely bans manually typing a text message while actively driving a vehicle on public roads. It also makes reading texts, email or social media posts while driving illegal. Depending on the interpretation of the law, manually inputting a phone number to dial someone may also constitute a violation.
The law provides exemptions for those who receive texts about how to operate or navigate their vehicle, those texting about a crime or emergency to law enforcement, people reading emergency alerts about weather or road conditions, and using the device for navigation purposes. Furthermore, those using hands-free input, such as talk-to-text software or similar programs that don’t require manual entry are not breaking the law either.
Be sure to assert your legal rights in any traffic stop
If you get stopped by a law enforcement officer who suspects you of texting and driving, your best defense is to provide information about your compliance with the law. For example, you could demonstrate that you were, in fact, using a talk-to-text program, or interfacing with the Bluetooth text or navigation systems in your vehicle.
Sometimes, when an officer thinks he or she sees you texting, what the cop really sees is someone hanging up a phone or activating a screen to check directions for navigation. Digital records can only establish the time when you sent the message, which can result in people who were not breaking the law facing a serious ticket.
Be smart about cellphone use in vehicles
If you find yourself running late for work, an appointment or in need of directions, the law allows for use of your cellphone while driving. It is safer for you to make a call than it is to try to text while driving your vehicle.
If you absolutely must send a text or email, your best option is to pull off the road. If an officer doesn’t know you were stopped, a review of your cellphone records could make someone think you broke the law when you didn’t.