Is texting illegal in Florida?
Moving from a very strict cell phone policy in one state to a lenient one can be very confusing. In the northeast such as New York or New Jersey, a driver can be pulled over for talking or texting on the phone due to the distracted negligence that it produces. In Florida, officials may not approve of the nature of the beast, but they cannot pull a driver over for speaking on their cell phone while driving. Driving and talking on a cell phone is perfectly legal in Florida. That does not mean that drivers should ignore the fact that using their phone on the road can lead to serious accidents. In fact, distracted drivers are one of the biggest causes of accidents .
We’ve all seen it during rush hour or during a normal commute on highways and other roadways. It is not hard to spot someone who is using their phone while driving; just look for the driver who has his or her head face down and is quickly jerking their head back up to watch the road. When you come across a distracted driver, give them an appropriate amount of space in order to prevent any collisions with their vehicle. You should also navigate your car to the safest area and contact local police. No one likes being the person who tells on another, but a phone call under these circumstances may be what it takes to save someone’s life.
Florida Cellphone Laws
In October of 2013, Florida enacted a limited ban on text messaging while driving; however this law posts no limitations on cell phone use. The law states:
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of nonverbal interpersonal communication, included, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing and instant messaging.” 
What does all that mean? Drivers in Florida cannot type into a virtual keyboard or send or read messages. However, this would never result in a stop. Drivers cannot be stopped by an officer assuming there is texting going on. Florida cell phone law that governs texting is considered a secondary law.
Florida Secondary Law Explanation
An officer can pull the driver over and issue a ticket if the officer has witnessed some other violation. Violation of law is punished as a nonmoving violation. If a crash occurs because of a moving violation and texting is involved, the driver will be penalized 6 pts. For example: If a driver is using a cell phone by texting or calling someone and rolls a stop sign because of the distraction, the rules of the road apply to the driver, plus the addition violation of texting. With that being said, if drivers do not cause any violations, there would be no reason for an officer to issue a traffic stop.
Is Florida too Lenient?
The National Safety Commission reviewed 180 fatal crashes that occurred from 2009 to 2011 where evidence indicated a driver was using a cell phone and came up with some shocking results. Only 52% of the fatal crashes were coded in FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) as involving cell phones . Therefore about half was not recorded as a crash factor. There is strong evidence to support that under-reporting of driver cell phone use in crashes is resulting in a substantial under-estimation of the magnitude of this public safety threat. Therefore, legislatures such as Florida make laws that do not cover the severity due to the lack of information. This causes drivers misconceptions about the dangers associated with distracted driving.
Dolman Law Group
If you must use a cell phone while driving try to avoid doing so during hazardous driving conditions; get to know how to use your phone and its special features; try and purchase a hands-free device if possible; and make sure your phone is easy to reach. However, it is best to just practice a strict no phone policy in the car, reserving phone usage for emergencies. With all of these safety measures in mind, the cellphone law in Florida still allows others to use their phones. If you have been involved in a car accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, contact the Dolman Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. Dolman Law has a team of experienced and aggressive attorneys who advocate for the rights of injured motorists on a daily basis. Call our offices today at (727) 451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765