Cell Phones and Driving: What’s the Florida Law?

texting and driving

The legality of using your cell phone while driving can be a bit confusing, especially if you travel between states. Eleven states have outright banned hand-held cell phones for all drivers. Some have simply banned hand-held phones for teenage drivers, those with learner’s permits, or those who’ve had their license for only a short time. Some states have laws about cell phones in school or construction zones. Others have limited on texting and driving but not on talking on your phone while driving.

Florida law says drivers can use their cell phones while driving. There is no rule about it having to be a hands-free device. A new law will go into effect October 1, 2013. With this law, drivers cannot text while driving. Currently, Florida is one of only eleven states allowing any sort of texting while driving. Even most states allowing it have bans on texting and driving for younger drivers. When the texting law goes into effect, texting while driving will only be a secondary offense. This means the driver must be pulled over for another reason such as speeding or running a red light. Then the person can also be ticketed for texting and driving.

Since there isn’t a ban on talking on your cell phone while driving, does that mean it is fine to talk on your phone while operating a motor vehicle? That is not necessarily the case. If you are using your cell phone while driving and get distracted, you can get ticketed. This is especially true if you cause an accident. With so many distractions on the road, if you know you are not going to be able to talk on your cell phone and concentrate on the road, do not talk on your cell phone while driving. Pull off to the side of the road, make calls before you leave, or at least use a hands-free device. Of course, it is also important to take into account road conditions and other factors which might cause added distractions while driving. Overall, just be a smart driver, and you can help to prevent accidents.

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Howard Iken is a Florida attorney that practices in family law, bankruptcy, and criminal law.