Know the Law: Texting and Driving Is ILLEGAL in Florida
Texting while driving has never been smiled upon, and with the number of accidents caused by cell phone use behind the wheel, it’s understandable why people are angered and frustrated when they see a driver using a device while operating their vehicle. Fortunately, those frustrations are finally being turned into action, and the much-awaited bill passed by Florida legislature in 2019 is officially being enforced in the Tampa Bay area beginning Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
Up until this bill, a driver could only be ticketed for texting or talking while driving after they had been pulled over for another offense (speeding, failure to stop at a light/stop sign, etc.). But now driving while texting or using a phone is a primary offense. In other words, using a device while operating a vehicle is enough of a reason on its own for an officer to pull you over and give you a citation. If you’re one of those who continually test the limits with phone use when behind the wheel, this should make you think twice before you reach for your device. Think you can still sneak by? Not really. If you end up in an accident and phone usage is suspected, lawyers can now request the data information from your wireless device, essentially letting them gain access to the time stamp of when your phone was being used, which can then prove whether or not you were utilizing the device at the time of the accident. The risk of being charged with causing the injury or death of someone else, or risk injuring or killing yourself, is never worth a few minutes of phone usage that could wait until the next stopping point on the road.
Now, it’s understood that for GPS purposes, searching for information, contacting friends/family, etc. you’ll still need to use your phone while in the car. Because of this, many companies have not only built voice activated programming into the phones themselves, but a variety of third-party companies are also offering hands-free accessories that let you talk, voice text, and otherwise control your phone without taking your hands off of the wheel. Additionally, vehicle manufactures are recognizing the need for phone use while driving, and many models are cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. are coming straight out of the factory with Bluetooth capabilities, steering wheel controls, and voice command systems that let you sync your phone with your vehicle for a seamless transition between phone usage and driving.
We are thankful that this new law in Florida will protect more drivers on our local roads, and will hopefully reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by texting or talking while behind the wheel. Sessums Law Group is proud to serve clients in and around the greater Tampa Bay area with legal services related to vehicle accidents, including those caused by phone usage, and we will fight for the compensation you deserve if you or someone you love is lost or injured following a collision. When it comes to the courtroom, We Stand for You!