In October of 2019, a new traffic rule went into effect in Florida, forbidding drivers from holding wireless communication devices while driving through active work areas or school zones and crossings. Police have spent the last three months issuing educational warnings in the form of tear-off reminders, detailing the new law and corresponding penalties.
Beginning January of 2020, however, police will begin handing out tickets instead. The violation will include a $60 base fine and 3 points on the driver’s license.
Legislators created this law in response to the epidemic of distracted driving in Florida and throughout the nation. Those interviewed by Tampa Bay’s ABC Action News are celebrating the new law, believing it will combat the dangers of the road in the Age of Smartphones. Many of the law’s supporters have suffered the devastating consequences of car accidents caused by distracted driving. Law enforcement and legislators alike hope that these penalties will increase awareness of the problem and motivate drivers to stay hands-free at all times.
Florida Highway Patrol has taken advantage of the heavy traffic of the holiday season to educate as many people as possible about the incoming consequences for non-hands-free drivers. According to Lt. Kim Montes, drivers can answer the phone by tapping it, but they cannot hold it. She recommends using Bluetooth or other hands-free devices.
According to Mike Conner, Chief of Police in Brevard County’s Indialantic, the law is simply common sense. He emphasizes the potential impact of taking your eyes off the road for even a second. Potential hazards can appear instantaneously, he explains, such as a child chasing a ball into the street.
Since October, Highway Patrol has issued more than 800 warnings to Florida motorists. Three months prior, the state had changed texting and driving to a primary offense, allowing police to pull drivers over specifically for texting and driving. Since then, Highway Patrol has issued more than 1,100 tickets for this offense.
Because Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, this new law is particularly good news for plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Essentially, the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover depends upon the levels of fault of both parties. The stricter the distracted driving laws, therefore, the greater the protections for the wrongfully injured in a court of law.
At Todd Miner Law, our lead attorney has over two decades of experience securing millions of dollars for his wrongfully injured clients. If someone’s distracted driving caused your injury or loss, we are more than prepared to fiercely advocate for your rights both in and out of the courtroom. Negligence of any kind is unacceptable, and Attorney Miner will use his years of trial experience to recover the damages you need and deserve. Schedule your consultation or call our firm directly at (407) 269-5877 today.