While we understand the urge to multitask while driving, the attorneys of Mowrey Shoemaker Beardsley urge drivers to focus on the road and put down their phones while behind the wheel.  Mowrey Shoemaker Beardsley is committed to making St. Augustine and the surrounding cities a safer place for our children and neighbors by encouraging the community to put the phone down.

Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law

Florida Statute §316.305 states that “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”

Drivers will have to pay a fine and costs (a total that may exceed $100).  A driver will also face points against their license if they have repeat offenses, text while driving through a school zone or cause a crash due to this dangerous type of distracted driving.

Texting While Driving is a Secondary Offense in Florida

Florida classifies texting while driving as a secondary offense; thus, in Florida, a driver may only be ticketed for texting while driving if he or she is stopped for another offense (such as speeding or running a red light).

However, texting while driving has become such a dangerous epidemic, and too many fatal accidents have occurred due to the unnecessary use of cell phones or other distracting devices while driving. Because there is a heightened public awareness of Florida’s distracted driving problem, Senate Bill 328 has been tagged as one to watch during this legislative session, which ends on March 11, 2016.  The Bill authorizes law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles and issue citations as a primary offense to persons who are texting while driving.  This means that an officer may pull you over simply for texting while driving to issue a citation and any associated fine.  Click here to track Senate Bill 328.

Florida Judges Leaning Towards Punitive Damages

In the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury, a driver’s phone records may be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine whether a violation has been committed.  Recently, Florida judges have been granting motions to allow punitive damages in cases where a driver’s texting caused an accident and subsequent injury. Punitive damages are awarded to punish bad behavior and can be many times larger than damages awarded as compensation for losses and injuries.

Articles addressing punitive damage awards in Florida courts:

• Fla. Judge Grants Motion to Allow Punitive Damages in Driving-While-Texting Lawsuit

• Negligent Texting Yields Punitive Damage Award in Florida

Injured by a Texting Driver

Mowrey Shoemaker Beardsley feels it’s important that everyone in the State of Florida understand that texting while driving accidents can be extremely serious.  If another driver injures you or a loved one because of texting while driving, you have a legitimate basis for a legal claim.  You deserve to be compensated for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and other losses.  Contact Mowrey Shoemaker Beardsley today for a free consultation regarding your automobile accident.