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Florida Texting Law Targets Driver Distraction

car accidentFlorida lawmakers have passed a tougher measure aimed at texting drivers. Our Fort Myers car accident attorneys continue to see far too many collisions caused by distraction and view this as a long overdue step in the right direction.

The new law, which awaits Gov. Ron Desantis’ signature, makes texting (including messaging, emailing and other forms of typing on a mobile device) a primary violation, meaning an officer can stop and cite a motorist without other cause for the traffic stop. Under current law, violation is a secondary offense, meaning a motorist can only be cited once stopped for committing another traffic violation.

In January, we wrote on our Florida Injury Lawyer Blog about the lack of progress Florida lawmakers have made when it comes to improving traffic safety. Florida continues to lag far behind most other states by almost every measure. AAA reports 44 other states already have laws as strong or stronger on the books. More than half of all states ban all hand-held cell phone use by drivers as studies continue to show hands-free options contribute to a significant number of serious and fatal distracted driving accidents.

The penalty remains the same as under previous law: A $30 fine for a first offense and 3 points on your driver’s license. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports the law would take effect July 1, with enforcement in school zones and construction zones beginning Oct. 1, when officers will begin issuing warnings until the law takes full effect on Jan. 1.

Still, cited motorists would be able to show proof of blue-tooth wireless purchase and take a safe-driving course to avoid fines and points on their license.

Historically, law enforcement has had a hard time enforcing the existing law because it is difficult to differentiate between permitted uses, such as dialing the phone, and forbidden uses like text messaging. The new law does little to address those concerns. Absent a warrant, a police officer who has stopped a motorist for suspicion of violating the law must ask to review a driver’s phone and advise the motorist that they have a right to refuse.

Distracted Driving Collisions in SWFL

An experienced car accident lawyer in Fort Myers or Cape Coral should review your case as soon as possible after a collision to determine both causation and fault. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 motorists are killed each year in collisions involving distraction, the true consequences are likely far more serious. By some estimates, one-third of traffic collisions involve some type of driver distraction, resulting in more than 10,000 road deaths each year.

Determining all of the causes of your collision, and identifying all of the parties responsible, is critical to collecting damages in a personal injury lawsuit after a Southwest Florida traffic collision. In some cases, a claim may also be filed against a victim’s own insurance carrier in cases where the plaintiff carries uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

Choosing a law firm that focuses exclusively on the litigation of personal injury and wrongful death claims can help protect your financial well-being and your legal rights. At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we have been fighting for the rights of the injured and their families since 1971.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.