Peter Catania | July 7, 2021 | Florida Law
With just a few exceptions, it is illegal to wear headphones while driving in Florida.
Drivers could receive a traffic ticket for violating the law. In some cases, criminal charges may apply if the driver caused an accident involving serious injury or death. The driver could also be personally liable for damages caused by a car crash.
Florida Laws for Headphones and Driving
Florida Statute §316.304 prohibits wearing headphones and driving. However, there are a few exceptions.
Those exceptions include:
- Police officers may wear communication devices necessary to perform their duties
- Emergency vehicle drivers and operators may wear ear protection
- You may wear a headset with a cell phone only if the headset has sound in one ear
- Motorcyclists can use helmets with built-in speakers provided that the speakers do not come in direct contact with the person’s ears
- Individuals who are taking a motorcycle test may wear a listening device as required by law
- Drivers may wear a headset that has a central base operation if the sound only comes through one ear
As you can see, the exceptions to the headphone law in Florida only apply in just a few situations. The law is designed to protect drivers and others on the road from accidents caused by inattention or failure to hear warning signals and horns.
Do Bicyclists Need to Follow the Same Rules for Headphones?
Yes, in general, bicyclists must follow the same laws for the use of headphones while bicycling that drivers must follow when operating a motor vehicle. Bicycles are considered vehicles. Therefore, riders cannot wear headphones while cycling except in a few situations.
In addition to the above exceptions, the following exceptions apply to bicyclists:
- A rider can wear headphones while riding a bicycle on a path that is not part of a roadway
- A rider may wear an earbud in one ear to use with a cellphone while cycling
- Bicyclists can wear hearing aids while riding their bicycles
If a bicyclist is caught breaking the laws regarding headphone use while driving, the rider can face the same penalties as a driver. However, there is one more exception that applies to bicyclists.
It is not illegal for pedestrians to wear headphones while walking, even though it can be dangerous. If a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk, the rider is treated as a pedestrian. Therefore, the rider could wear headphones while riding on a sidewalk.
However, wearing headphones and riding on the sidewalk can be extremely dangerous. The bicyclist may not hear someone shouting a warning in time to avoid a serious bicycle accident.
Suing a Driver for Damages Caused by a Distracted Driving Accident
Florida’s no-fault insurance laws prevent you from suing another driver for a car accident unless you sustain serious injuries. However, if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you could sue the driver who caused your car accident for damages.
Damages that might be recoverable in a distracted driving car accident lawsuit include, but are not limited to:
- Ambulance charges and emergency room bills
- Surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and other medical bills
- Loss of benefits, wages, commissions, salaries, and other forms of income
- Pain and suffering caused by emotional distress and mental anguish
- Physical discomfort and pain
- Decreased earning potential and future loss of income
- Personal care and in-home assistance with chores
- Disfigurement, permanent disabilities, and impairments
- Loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life
The value of your personal injury claim depends on the severity of your injuries, your economic damages, and other factors. A factor that could reduce the money you receive for a claim is your negligence in causing your injury.
Florida’s Comparative Fault Laws and Headphone Use While Driving
Florida’s comparative fault laws state that the money you receive for damages can be reduced if you were partially at fault for the cause of the accident. In other words, if wearing headphones contributed to the cause of the car wreck, you could receive less money for your personal injury claim.
The amount of the deduction depends on your level of fault. For example, if a jury found that your conduct contributed to 45 percent of the cause of the car crash, you would only receive 55 percent of the value of your damages.
Beware if an insurance adjuster says that you contributed to the cause of a car accident. The insurance company may be trying to undervalue your claim.
Before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company, make sure that you understand your legal rights and the correct value of your damages. When you sign the settlement agreement, you give up the right to file a lawsuit or demand more money for your injuries or damages.