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Do Florida's new distracted driving laws mean safer roads?

Soon, new distracted driving laws will go into effect in Florida. If you drive on Tampa-area roads, you may have noticed distracted driving for yourself, as it is quite common. People engage in all kinds of distracting behaviors while driving, including putting on makeup, adjusting the radio or even talking to a passenger.

You are probably aware that phones are the leading source of distracted driving, and actions such as texting, scrolling social media or even watching videos are some of the most common reasons for distraction-related accidents. With the number of fatal accidents in Florida continuing to rise, lawmakers hope that changes in the law will help reduce the rate of accidents. Starting in July, texting while driving will now be a primary offense.

What does this law mean for you?

Previously in Florida, texting and driving was a secondary offense. This means that law enforcement could not stop a driver for texting unless he or she was also committing another offense, such as speeding or running through a stop sign. With the new law, police can write a ticket for texting, with fees starting at $30. Consider the following: 

  • Even with the new laws, police must be able to prove that a driver was texting in order to write a ticket.
  • They can ask a driver to hand over his or her phone to allow the officer to look at the texting history.
  • A driver has the right to refuse to allow the search of his or her phone. At this point, there is nothing more the officer can do, and the traffic stop is over.

As you can see, the driver's right to refuse to allow the officer to have the phone is a significant loophole in the law. While it remains to be seen how this will impact distracted driving rates across the state, it is likely that it will do little to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions.

Holding liable parties accountable

If you suffered injuries in an accident that you believe was the result of a driver's choice to text and drive or use his or her phone while driving, you have options. The law may do little to curb distracted driving, but you still have the right to pursue legal recourse to hold liable parties accountable. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to recoup your losses and get the help you need to get better and move forward. Contact our law firm for help if you have been injured due to another person texting and driving.

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