A new law in Florida makes texting while driving a primary offense that allows law enforcement officers to pull you over and issue a citation. However, there are other additional nuances in this law that you should be aware of.
The consequences of this dangerous activity can deeply affect not only the victim but also their family. If you’ve been a victim, it’s essential to have a Florida car accident lawyer who is well-versed in the state’s texting and driving laws.
At Viles & Beckman, we understand these challenges and are committed to helping you navigate the legal landscape, seeking compensation and justice to get your life back on track.
Understanding Texting and Driving Laws in Florida
Florida has taken significant steps to combat the dangers of texting and driving. A recent Florida texting and driving bill signed by the governor has brought about crucial changes in how these offenses are handled. Here’s what you need to know about the current laws:
- Primary Offense: Texting while driving, including messaging, emailing, and other forms of typing on a mobile device, is now a primary offense. Law enforcement officers can pull motorists over and issue a citation solely for this reason.
- Enhanced Penalties in Sensitive Areas: The use of handheld wireless communication devices is banned in designated school crossings, school zones, or roadwork zones, except for emergencies. Hands-free uses remain legal.
- Fines and Penalties: A first offense for texting while driving is punishable by a $30 fine and court fees. A second offense carries a $60 fine, additional court costs, and three points on a driver’s license. Texting in school or construction zones incurs additional license points.
- Avoiding Penalties: First offenders can avoid fines and license penalties by purchasing hands-free Bluetooth devices, showing proof of purchase, and completing a “Driver Safety Education” course.
- Permitted Uses: Florida’s law bans text messaging while a vehicle is moving but allows the use of cell phones for Maps/GPS navigation, making phone calls, and reading emergency messages, like weather alerts, except in school and construction zones.
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The Risks and Consequences of Texting While Driving
Texting while driving significantly increases the risk of accidents. This distraction takes your attention off the road, leading to potentially severe accidents. In Florida, the law now recognizes the seriousness of this issue by classifying texting while driving as a primary offense.
The legal consequences of texting while driving are now more immediate and severe. Being cited can lead to fines, points on your license, and, in repeated instances, more significant penalties. For young drivers, these penalties can have long-lasting effects, including higher insurance rates.
For victims, the impact of an accident caused by texting and driving extends beyond common car accident injuries. The emotional distress and financial burden, including medical bills and lost wages, can be substantial. This is where legal support becomes invaluable.
How Florida’s Texting and Driving Laws Impact Car Accident Cases
Florida’s updated texting and driving laws are crucial in proving negligence in car accident cases. Here’s a brief overview of their impact:
- Direct Evidence of Negligence: Texting while driving, now a primary offense, provides clear evidence of a driver’s negligence. This simplification in law helps establish fault more straightforwardly in accident cases.
- Facilitating Evidence Collection: The new legal status allows easier access to cell phone records, offering concrete proof of texting at the time of an accident. This strengthens the case against the at-fault driver.
- Influencing Jury Perceptions and Insurance Claims: Increased awareness of the dangers of texting while driving influences jury decisions and insurance claims, making it more likely for texting drivers to be deemed negligent.
- Support for Punitive Damages: In severe cases, these laws can justify punitive damages against drivers whose texting led to significant harm, emphasizing the recklessness of their behavior.
- Navigating Legal Complexities: Despite clearer laws, the intricacies of these cases require experienced legal guidance to increase your chances of proving negligence.
Potential Compensation in Texting and Driving Cases
If you’re involved in a texting and driving case in Florida, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. These compensations are designed to cover different aspects of the harm you’ve suffered:
- Medical Expenses: Covers the cost of medical treatment resulting from the accident.
- Lost Wages: Compensates for the income lost due to inability to work following the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Addresses the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.
- Property Damage: Covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and other damaged property.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, if the offender’s behavior is found to be particularly reckless, additional punitive damages may be awarded.
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Florida’s Legal Framework: Timelines and Nuances
In Florida, the statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit in a texting and driving case. For personal injury cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury (reduced from four years due to 2023 tort reforms).
Missing these deadlines can result in losing your right to sue. Therefore, it’s important to act promptly.
Contact a Texting and Driving Accident Attorney Today
Texting and driving accidents in Florida can have serious consequences. If you find yourself a victim of such an incident, it’s important to take immediate action. The laws in Florida are clear, and the penalties for offenders can be significant. But as a victim, you need someone to stand up for your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
At Viles & Beckman, we have the knowledge and experience to guide you through this process. From handling insurance claims to representing you in court, we are here to support you every step of the way. Don’t let the statute of limitations run out on your case.
Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you move forward.