Effective October 1, 2013, Florida Statute 316.305 will allow law enforcement officers to ticket drivers for texting while driving. But what does texting while driving mean? 316.305 prohibits people from “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging." However, “a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated." Thus, it appears you can still sit at the stop light and text, e-mail, and Facebook.
Florida was one of the last four states in the United States to enact such a law. The new law is considered a “secondary offense," meaning to be pulled over and detained for it, you must have committed a primary offense, such as speeding, running a stop sign, or not wearing your seatbelt. An officer cannot pull you over for only texting and driving. Penalties for being ticketed for texting and driving include a $30 fine for a first time offense. A second offense within five years will be considered a “moving violation" and will lead to an assessment of points on the violator’s driver’s license.
This guide is provided by Paul Knudsen, a Partner at Dyer Knudsen Law. A Tampa law firm representing residents of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando in various areas of law, including auto accident, and traffic tickets.