Florida was one of the last states to enact a no-texting and driving law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May 2019. From June to December 2019, officers were instructed to stop and warn drivers if they saw them texting on the road. Starting January 1, 2020, Florida drivers are subject to a $30 fine if they text and drive.
Data Illustrates Florida's Distracted Driving Crashes
In 2019, Florida had over 400,000 car crashes, leading to more than 254,000 injuries and 3,196 deaths. According to online insurance company EverQuote Inc., in 2017, Florida had the second-worst record of distracted driving out of all 50 states. The online app compiled data from 2.7 million vehicle trips to compare cell phone use while driving.
The study found that 92% of drivers across the U.S. used their cell phones in a moving car during the prior 30 days. The report contributed to Florida's legislation to make texting and driving a primary offense. Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also reported that in 2016, 50,000 of the state's crashes involved distracted driving (including texting).
Florida Penalties for Texting and Driving
Florida's no texting and driving law provided a warning period up to January 1, 2020. After January 1, the state instituted a series of penalties for drivers violating the law.
The first time an officer catches a Florida driver texting and driving, they will be issued a $30 fine, but the citation won't go on their driving record.
Subsequent violations within a five-year period are classified as moving violations. The fine will be $60 to $100 and put three points on your driving record. Moving violation points stay on Florida drivers' license records for three years.
Risks of Texting and Driving in Florida
If you text and drive in Florida and an officer sees you, you might think that a $30 fine isn't much, especially if the violation won't go on your driving record. DriversEd.com's 2019 survey discovered that 67% of people who responded said they'd texted while driving. AAA discovered similar results in its survey, which noted that almost half of drivers had seen other drivers texting or emailing while on the road. Another AAA study found that texting behind the wheel made drivers eight times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Florida's laws regarding auto accidents are complex. If injuries are involved in a crash, the concept of "comparative negligence" can reduce car accident claim awards by the percentage a driver is found to be responsible. If a Florida driver is texting and has an accident, they could be found 95% responsible for the crash. They might receive a claim award to pay for the damage to their vehicle or others involved, but the award would be reduced by 95%.
Don't Text and Drive in Florida
The important takeaway about texting and driving in Florida isn't the $30 fine, although subsequent incidents will cost more and go on your driving record. As retired Florida fire and rescue officer and explosives expert Paul R. Laska said, "If you're lucky, texting and driving in Florida will get you a costly citation. If you're unlucky, it will get you buried."
Teens are considered highly at-risk for distracted driving, including texting and driving. Teens can learn driving rules and more through DriversEd.com's Florida Learners Permit course. Find the information you need to drive safely in Florida through DriversEd.com's Florida DHSMV resource portal.