The Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving
In Florida, distracted driving continues to be a serious issue. Even with the addition of legislation making texting and other forms of distracted driving illegal, in 2017 there were still 49,288 distracted driving-related crashes in Florida alone.
Distracted driving comes in many forms. The types that are punishable include reading, texting, or entering-in information on a cell phone while driving – but other types can be just as dangerous. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention – whether it be visual, manual, or cognitive – increases the risk of being involved in a potentially fatal crash.
Texting is the most common form of distracted driving, but things like eating, drinking, monitoring children passengers, grooming, or even diverting attention to things going on outside the car’s side windows are all potentially dangerous behaviors.
Of the nearly 50,000 distraction-related crashes in Florida in 2017, 3,012 resulted in a person’s incapacitation, and 214 were fatal.
Florida Law Regarding Handheld Devices
While distracted driving is a punishable offense, using handheld electronic devices for the purpose of navigation or communication is completely legal. Drivers are allowed to use their devices as long as there is no manual data entry required. Talking on the phone while driving is also legal, but any potential distraction can be minimized through use of a hands-free device.
Distracted Driving Penalties
Texting and driving is treated as a noncriminal traffic citation, and drivers are charged with a nonmoving violation. Drivers who are repeat offenders within a five-year period however, will be punished with a moving violation.
Texting and driving penalties include:
- A citation with a requirement to appear before an official
- Community service up to 120 hours if the offense results in the death of another person
- Civil penalties
- A requirement to enroll in driver improvement education courses
Not all accidents can be avoided, and if you’ve been involved in a distracted driving-related accident, consult with a knowledgeable team of attorneys like those here at the BCN Law Firm in Clermont. Call us today at 352-394-2103.