Today, for the first time in Florida, texting-while-driving will become illegal. However, as most have predicted, texting-while-driving will only be a secondary offense; i.e. you have to be observed violating another traffic law, such as speeding or careless driving, in order to receive the texting-while-driving fine ($30.00 for the first instance and $60.00 the second time you are caught texting-while-driving within 5 years. The second offense will also include points on your license). Also, if you are involved in a car accident that causes serious injury or death, police would be able to check your cell-phone records.
Cell phones may still be used to check maps/GPS and you can get around the texting-while-driving prohibition if you use your cell phone’s voice-recognition technology, such as Siri on the iPhone or Dragon Dictation and Vlingo. Apps such as DriveSafe.ly Pro will read incoming text messages to you. If you don’t want to use voice-recognition apps, you’ll have to wait for a red light or when you are completely stopped in a traffic jam, where it is still legal to text.
Senator Sachs from Delray Beach will again attempt to strengthen the law to make texting-while-driving a primary offense.
Florida will now join 40 other states that have made texting-while-driving an offense. Texting-while-driving, as might be obvious, also includes emailing and any other messaging service that requires typing characters, symbols or letters. It should be noted that talking on cell phones, or utilizing cell phones for other services such as listening to podcasts or other online/streaming programs – while driving – is still perfectly legal.
(See my earlier texting-while-driving post from 2011, which includes information on how, as a Miami car accident lawyer, I might use cell phone records against a party that causes injury to my client in a car accident)