Everything You Need to Know About Florida Cell Phone Driving Laws
In general, the most common ways to use a cell phone include making and receiving phone calls; sending or receiving electronic messages; and searching for or reading information on the internet or on apps. Although you are capable of doing all these activities while driving, the question is “should you?”. The answer depends on what state you are in and more importantly how safe you want to be.
Every state across the country has different laws that apply to using a cell phone while driving. This guide will help you understand the cell phone driving laws in Florida. By following the recommendations in this guide, you will learn what type of cell phone use while driving will get you a ticket in Florida. You will also learn whether it is safe to use a cell phone or other mobile device safely while driving.
FLORIDA CAR SEAT LAW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- CAN YOU USE A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA?
- THE FLORIDA CELL PHONE AND DRIVING LAW
- TEXTING WHILE DRIVING LAW IN FLORIDA
- VIEWING DATA WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
- USING GPS WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
- USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE WHEN YOU ARE STOPPED
- PHONE CALLS WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
- HEADPHONES, EARPHONES, AND HEADSETS WHILE DRIVING
- PENALTY FOR VIOLATING THE LAW
- THE SAFEST WAY TO USE YOUR DEVICES IN THE CAR
CAN YOU USE A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA?
In recent years there has been an effort by some Florida politicians to ban all cell phone use while driving. As of 2019, however, many cell phone activities in Florida are still not illegal. For example, it is not illegal in Florida to make or receive phone calls on your cell phone while driving. It is also not illegal to send or receive electronic messages using hands free voice activated technology while driving. On the other hand, it is illegal to send or receive electronic communications using a hand-held device. It is also illegal to search for and read information on the internet or while using apps. Lastly, it is illegal to use headphones, earphones or headsets while driving.
THE FLORIDA CELL PHONE AND DRIVING LAW
Florida law 316.305 is the only current Florida statute that addresses using a cell phone while driving. It is titled “Wireless communications devices; prohibition”. The statute says the section may be cited as the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” But the title of Florida law 316.305 is a bit deceiving because it doesn’t really ban all texting activity. In addition, the wording of the statute is a bit confusing because the ban is not limited to just texting. The statute also bans reading electronic information while driving. To really understand when you can use your cell phone while driving in Florida, you must first understand what is actually banned.
According to section 316.305(3)(a) a person may not operate 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 device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing, and instant messaging. This sentence is simply a mouthful. So we will break it down in the next section.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING LAW IN FLORIDA
Florida law 316.305(3)(a) makes it illegal to use your hands to text on any device while driving. This would include entering data by hand into a text, email, or other electronic device. It would also include entering data into a GPS system while driving. But that does not mean all forms of texting while driving is banned. The statute is very carefully worded to try and make it clear that it is only banning manually entering data using your hands and or viewing data while driving. This means it does not ban voice texting and voice playback of texted information. In other words, you can have a passenger read you text messages and then respond for you. It also means you can use any device that allows you to speak the text and then audibly plays back the responses. Some hand-held devices will do this. But the most common devices are built into the car and connect to your mobile phone or other device by Bluetooth. This is called hands free texting.
VIEWING DATA WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
Simply put, you cannot read data for the purpose of interpersonal nonvoice communication while driving. This means you cannot look at texts, emails, electronic messages, or apps.
USING GPS WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
The statute only bans reading data for the purpose of interpersonal nonvoice communication. It also has a specific exception for using a device or system for navigation purposes. This means you are allowed to view GPS map and directions while driving if the course was already programmed and started before driving.
USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE WHEN YOU ARE STOPPED
Florida law 316.305 only bans texting and reading electronic data while driving. The statute specifically states that a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated and is not subject to the prohibitions of the statute. That means you can use your cell phone for any reason while stopped at a light or on the side of the road.
PHONE CALLS WHILE DRIVING IN FLORIDA
If you read Florida law 316.305 carefully, you will see that it never mentions talking on the phone while driving. That means you can currently talk on the phone while driving in Florida. You can do this by using a hands-free device to make and receive phone calls. But it also means you can put your cell phone up to your ear with your hands to make and receive calls.
HEADPHONES, EARPHONES, AND HEADSETS WHILE DRIVING
Florida law 316.304, titled “Wearing of headsets” states that no person shall operate an automobile while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid. This ban applies to both wireless and wired devices. But the statute does allow you to use a headset, headphone, or earphone that provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear. The reason for the ban is that when you are wearing a headset, headphones, or ear phones over both ears you cannot hear traffic noises around you. That is why the law will allow you to use a device that covers only one ear.
PENALTY FOR VIOLATING THE LAW
Violating the texting while driving law or the wearing of headsets law is a noncriminal traffic infraction. This means you can get a ticket and will have to pay a fine. If you violate the texting while driving law a second time within 5 years you can get points on your license as well as another ticket and a fine.
THE SAFEST WAY TO USE YOUR DEVICES IN THE CAR
The truth is that most people are not capable of safely using a mobile device while driving under any circumstance. The latest research proves that using a cell phone or mobile device while driving is very distracting. So much so that the driver fails to recognize dangers in time to react to them. You would think using hands free technology such as Bluetooth would reduce the level of distraction and help prevent auto accident injuries. But the studies do not bear this out. It appears that using hands free technology is just as distracting as using a hand-held mobile phone. The bottom line is that the safest thing to do is not use your cell phone or other mobile device under any circumstance while driving. Put the phone down and turn it off when driving. After you complete your trip then you can pick it back up and turn it on. This will reduce the temptation of responding to texts or answering phone calls. If you absolutely have to make or receive a call or text message, pull over and stop the car in a safe place before you do so.