Peter Catania | July 27, 2021 | Florida Law
It’s extremely important to pay close attention to the road and one’s surroundings when driving. This is particularly true on the congested roads of Tampa, FL.
Distracted driving significantly increases your chances of being involved in an accident. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 Americans lost their lives as a result of distracted driving in 2019.
There’s evidence to suggest that distracted driving is on the rise. This is likely due to the prevalence of smartphone ownership.
Texting while driving is very unsafe. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop many from engaging in this dangerous behavior.
Of course, states have passed laws to deter drivers from texting while at the wheel. If someone is caught texting while driving, the penalty will usually be a ticket (if they didn’t cause an accident).
The cost of a texting ticket varies from one state to another. If you’re wondering how much a texting ticket costs in Tampa, keep reading.
The Cost of a Texting Ticket in Florida
In Florida, the starting cost of an initial texting-while-driving ticket is $30. Court fees are also added to the cost. The cost of a second violation within five years is $60.
This is somewhat low compared to other states. For example, one’s first texting-while-driving ticket in New York is $50 plus court fees.
There is a significant potential cost to texting while driving: liability for an accident. Suppose you cause an accident while texting and driving. You may be liable for an injury victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Using a Cell Phone While Driving in Tampa: What You Need to Know
Florida law may need to be improved to ensure cell phone usage causes fewer accidents. Although drivers aren’t permitted to text or talk on their phones while driving in Tampa, there are some exceptions.
For example, as of now, the texting while driving law only applies to moving vehicles. That means you can legally text while driving if you’re stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
However, this doesn’t mean you should. For example, if you’re texting while stopped at a red light, you might not notice when the light turns green. To alert you, a driver behind your vehicle might honk their horn. You might hit the gas too quickly, causing an accident by striking a pedestrian or vehicle you failed to see.
It’s also still legal to hold your phone while driving if you’re not in a school zone or work zone. You can perform basic tasks like checking navigation or traffic alerts. You can also use your phone while driving to call police if you notice any criminal or suspicious activity. Additionally, voice texting is legal anywhere on Florida’s roads, including work and school zones.
Again, none of this is to suggest you should use your phone while driving. Even a seemingly “minor” distraction can increase your chances of causing an accident.
The current laws also limit the extent to which law enforcement can successfully issue tickets for texting while driving in Florida. It can be very challenging to determine how someone is using their phone when you only see them through a car window.
A police officer can ask to see a driver’s phone to check if they have been recently texting or calling someone. However, the law also requires officers to inform drivers of their right to refuse to comply with such a request. This makes it very difficult for officers to confirm whether a driver was texting or whether they were using their phone lawfully.
The degree to which recent updates to Florida law may or may not reduce the rate of accidents resulting from distracted driving is yet to be determined. That said, there may be more work to be done to protect drivers further. In the meantime, it’s very important not to text or use your phone in general while driving. A $30 ticket may not sound like much, but texting while driving can be much more costly if you cause an accident.