By Attorney Daveta Williams
Most of you may have heard about Florida enacting some form of law regarding “Texting While Driving,” however, you may not understand the extent of the law. Florida Statute 316.305 is considered “Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” This statute lays out what it means to text while driving, the legislature’s intent/purpose for enacting this law, exceptions, and violations and punishments. I will explore this Statute and attempt to explain relevant portions of its contents in common sense terms.
Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving Law took effect on July 1, 2019. The law authorizes law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations for violation of the law. According to the Statute, a person may not operate a motor vehicle while typing or entering characters or reading or sending data into a handheld device for nonvoice interpersonal communications. The Statute then provides examples of nonvoice interpersonal communications to include texting, emailing, and instant messaging. Under the Statute, if the motor vehicle is stationary, i.e. not moving, then you are not subject to the prohibitions provided under this law for texting while driving. This law does not apply to a person operating a motor vehicle who is performing official duties, such as emergency personnel, a person reporting an emergency or criminal activity to law enforcement, receiving messages related to navigation of the motor vehicle, safety-related information (traffic and weather alerts), radio broadcasting, using the device for navigation purposes, among others.
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer for violation of this statute, the Florida Statute provides that the law enforcement officer must inform you of your right to decline a search of your device and may not access this device without a warrant. The law enforcement officer may not confiscate the device while awaiting the issuance of a warrant or obtain consent to search the device through coercion or other improper methods. Consent to search this device must be voluntary.
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer for a violation of this statute, you may be cited for a nonmoving, noncriminal traffic infraction. If this is your second or subsequent violation within 5 years after the date of a prior conviction, you may be cited for a moving, noncriminal traffic infraction. Unlike a nonmoving traffic infraction, a moving violation carries points and a higher fine.
If you have been issued a citation for Texting While Driving, we can assist you. Give our office a call today at (407) 500-4267.