It’s common knowledge that texting while driving is a dangerous and sometimes deadly habit. Yet, until a recent law passed, this form of distracted driving remained a secondary offense in the state of Florida. As a secondary offense, law enforcement could not pull over a driver they witnessed texting while operating a motor vehicle. Starting July 1st, Florida’s new texting while driving law is elevated to a primary offense and empowers police to curb the leading cause of distracted driving.
In this video blog, Rob Roy of Kinney, Fernandez & Boire PA explains what the new law on texting while driving means for Florida drivers and those injured in personal injury accidents in Tampa Bay.
“What Florida’s New Ban on Texting While Driving Means for You” Vlog Transcript:
(Rob Roy, Attorney): “Florida’s new law that bans texting while driving comes into effect July 1, 2019. It’s very important because Florida has been named one of the worst states for distracted driving in the country. In fact, one in four car crashes occurs because of texting while driving. And nationally, the National Safety Council has reported that 1.6 million crashes occur every year due to cell phone use.
TEXT: WHAT THE NEW LAW MEANS FOR DRIVERS
So the major change with this new law in the state of Florida is that texting while driving is now considered a primary traffic offense, meaning a police officer can pull a driver over if the police officer believes the driver was texting or instant messaging or emailing while driving. Before this law, it was considered a secondary offense. You could not be pulled over simply for texting while driving. If you were pulled over for another offense, such as running a red light or speeding, then you can be given a citation if you were also texting at the time. If a police officer does pull you over for texting while driving, they are not entitled to confiscate your phone or to search your phone without your permission.
TEXT: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE
The new law that comes into effect July 1st continues to allow for discovery of cell phone records in personal injury cases. Although a police officer cannot confiscate your phone or search your phone without your permission, if evidence arises that suggests the driver was using their cell phone at the time of the accident then attorneys are able to seek those cell phone records through subpoenas in order to confirm use of the cell phone at the time of the crash.
Whether or not this new law is going to form a basis to argue for punitive damages, which are damages just to punish conduct remains to be seen. That’s going to be litigated across the state of Florida in the coming years. One of the things that we also find with cell phone use is in trucking crashes. That may form the basis of additional claims of negligence against trucking companies. They have policies and procedures which are designed to prevent the use of cell phone by their drivers while driving a commercial vehicle. If cell phone use is involved in a car crash with a commercial vehicle, that may lend itself to additional claims against the trucking company.
TEXT: WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A TEXTING WHILE DRIVING ACCIDENT
Yes, there are locking devices, and those are very important to utilize to prevent cell phone use while driving. Hands-free devices are helpful. But even with hands-free devices, a driver can still be distracted. So our recommendation is to put the phone away. If you have to make a call or text, pull over and do it in a safe manner. Unfortunately, every day people still use their cell phone while driving. As a result of those distractions, many crashes occur and people are injured. At KFB Law, we want to help those who have been injured in car crashes as a result of distracted drivers. For more information, contact us at KFBLaw.com.”