Orlando, FL (PRWEB) September 30, 2013
Beginning October 1, 2013, it will be illegal to text and drive in the State of Florida.
Created by the Florida Legislature, the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law”* prohibits the use of wireless communication devices while driving. Governor Rick Scott approved the proposed legislation in May 2013. When the new law takes effect on October 1, drivers may be ticketed, assessed a fine and may even receive points on their license.
“Drivers should be aware of what constitutes texting and driving,” said Brandon Gans, attorney with Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. The new Florida Statute, 316.305**, bans “operating 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 non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”
The statute defines wireless communications device as “any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet…and that allows text communications.”
“Persons ticketed under this law can expect to receive fines associated with this non-moving violation,” Gans said. Drivers who receive subsequent tickets within five years of the first conviction can expect even heftier fines along with points assessed to their driving record. If the case involves a crash and the court determines the driver was texting, six points may be assessed to the driver’s record. If a driver accumulates twelve points within one year, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend driving privileges for thirty days***. “There will be no grace period, so when the law takes effect on October 1, 2013, drivers text at their own risk. Just like any of Florida’s other driving laws, ignorance is no defense,” he explained.
“For those who feel this new law is too invasive, there is good news. This law is a ‘secondary offense,’ meaning that a law enforcement officer cannot stop a driver simply for texting and driving. The officer must first witness another traffic infraction (primary offense) before conducting a traffic stop. Once stopped for the primary violation, the officer may then issue a ticket for texting as a secondary violation. For those who remember, this was once the case with Florida’s seat belt law. In 2009, the Florida Legislature changed not wearing a seat belt from a secondary offense to a primary offense. It is likely only a matter of time before the same action is taken with the texting law,” said Gans.
There are several other limitations to the texting ban. For example, the following exemptions have been carved out for drivers who are:
- using the device for navigation purposes of call 911
- receiving information relating to traffic or weather alerts
- receiving radio broadcasts
The new law still allows drivers to use a wireless communications device to make phone calls while operating the vehicle. The law also does not apply when the vehicle is stationary.
“So for those messages that just can’t wait, make sure the vehicle is stopped before texting,” Gans advised.
About Skubiak & Rivas, P.A.
With offices in Orlando and Kissimmee FL, Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. serves Central Florida’s criminal and traffic law defense firms. Founded by attorney Robert P. Skubiak in 1993, and partnering with attorney Alain Rivas in 1999, the practice represents clients involved in automotive and traffic-related infractions. Areas of focus include speeding tickets, red light cameras, auto accidents, reckless driving infractions, DUI charges, drug charges, tourist defense, habitual traffic offenders, suspended licenses, leaving the scene of an accident and more. For additional information, visit https://www.trafficlawfirm.com.
Partner Robert P. Skubiak founder and senior partner of Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., attorney
Skubiak graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Economics in 1989 and graduated University of Florida in 1992 with a degree in Law. In 1993 Skubiak opened his own law office in Orlando to provide clients with traffic and criminal defense.
Partner Alain Rivas graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in Political Science and History in 1992 and graduated from Stetson College of Law in 1994. Rivas worked for the Hillsborough County Attorneys Office and as legal Counsel for Joelo Inc., Attorney Rivas has extensive experience with criminal and traffic defense and has a passion for excellent service and excels with representing all of his clients.