Starting October 1, 2013, “texting while driving” will be banned in throughout Florida. It will be a civil offense to read or send a text, email or instant message on a smartphone while driving.
In order to cite a driver for this violation, the person must be stopped for some other lawful reason. That means that if a police officer saw a driver texting, the deputy could not pull the person over and give them a ticket, unless the cop saw another infraction that gives him that authority.
This is called a “secondary offense” because it does not allow the officer to pull you over for it, but can be an additional traffic citation. This is how Florida’s seat belt law started out. Initially, law enforcement officers or Florida Highway Patrol trooper could not pull a driver over for not wearing a seat belt, but eventually the law was changed to make not wearing a seat belt a primary offense did allow an officer to pull a person over and write a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.
There is also a provision in the law that allows police to use drivers’ mobile phone records against them only when texting causes a crash resulting in death or personal injury. Whether this part of the law stands up to illegal searches and seizures or requires a warrant before the police can get this information will eventually be challenged in court. In addition, an objection would be made that the need a custodian of records from the cell phone company to get these records into evidence to assure they are accurate and your phone record and not someone else on your plan.
The ban covers tablet computers as well as mobile phones, but excludes using a talk-to-text feature. It also allows texting while stopped at a red light. You can also use your phone records to defend against a texting-while-driving ticket, but some phone companies’ records don’t differentiate between manual texting and talk-to-text messaging.
A first violation is a $30 fine plus court costs. A second or subsequent violation within five years adds three points to the driver’s license and carries a $60 fine.
Eventually, this will become a primary offense so that the police will have another reason to pull drivers over and search their vehicles. Even if your phone records prove that you did not text, you will still have to fight the search because an officer can always say “well, it looked like he was texting.” However, a judge or jury may have something to say about that and your criminal charges could be dismissed because the officer did not have the right to pull you over.
If you were pulled over and the police searched your car, you may have a defense to the criminal charges against you.
Call aggressive criminal lawyer Thomas C. Grajek in Lakeland, Florida now and go to court with a an attorney that will fight for you!
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