Distracted driving is a major problem in Florida. It has led to countless auto accidents on our roadways and new laws have finally been implemented to address the issue. Florida statute 316.305, also known as Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, aims to eliminate the practice of texting and distracted driving.
Many of my clients who are struck by another vehicle suspect that the driver of the at-fault vehicle was either texting or somehow distracted by their phone. In most of these cases, it is clear that the accident should not have occurred had the other driver simply been paying better attention. But, even though my clients are upset and suspicious, they find that there are limitations at the scene of the accident in getting this information unless the other driver simply admits it (which is extremely rare). So, my clients come to me with these suspicions and ask what can be done to prove that the other driver was on the phone. This article will address the current status of the texting and distracted driving laws as well as make suggestions for ways to prove the other driver violated the law that caused the auto accident.
What Is the Current Status of Florida’s Law on Texting?
On July 1, 2019, Florida made texting a primary offense. That meant that law enforcement could begin to stop people and issue citations for suspected texting. Prior to this date, law enforcement could only issue a citation if someone was stopped for another reason. But, the law goes further than just texting. You also cannot email or use your phone to type in any information manually while driving. The law does not prevent vehicle navigation, radio or safety-related information. Additionally, the law only applies to vehicles that are not stationary. So, if you are stopped at a light or in traffic, it is permissible to operate the phone. There are are no bans for using the phone to speak into. But, as of October 1, 2019, you cannot have a phone in your hand for any reason in a school zone or construction zone. So, there are a lot of bans and a lot of exceptions to understand.
How Can the Police Enforce These New Laws?
Obviously, if a person is seen by an officer violating a law, that is enough to prove the charge. Additionally, a driver may even admit to wrongdoing. But, even though an officer may ask to inspect a phone to see if a violation occurred, the driver can refuse to turn the phone over. In other words, the only way that a police officer can determine whether the texting law was violated is if the driver voluntarily allows the officer to go through it. This seems quite unlikely to happen. I know I would never turn over my phone voluntarily because there’s no telling the extent of what the officer may do with it.
How Can an Auto Accident Lawyer Determine If the Driver Was Texting or Distracted?
If there was no witness to the texting and there was no admission of wrongdoing, then the only real option is to issue a subpoena for the phone. This technique can only by employed once the auto accident lawyer has subpoena power. And, subpoena power only attaches after a lawsuit is filed. So, you can imagine the hurdles that are involved to simply get this information. However, if the phone records show that texts were being sent or received at the time of the accident, that will be strong evidence in your injury case. I’m sure you can imagine the reaction by the insurance company if it learns that its insured was not truthful with them and was actually texting or distracted at the time of the collision.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney
Auto accidents cause enough frustration without the at-fault driver making an irresponsible decision like texting. When people disregard the safety of others and text and drive, they should suffer consequences. Unfortunately, because law enforcement is so limited in its ability to charge people, often the only remedy is to hold them civilly responsible. Bringing an auto accident injury claim against them is a way to hold people accountable. At St Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we file lawsuits and hold the people who injured you accountable. We have handled countless cases involving people who were texting and driving and are not afraid to aggressively pursue these cases. Our goal in every case is to provide prompt answers to your questions, make sure that your injuries are treated, and that we recover compensation for what the other driver has put you through. If you are looking for an auto accident attorney who specializes in injury cases caused by the negligence of another, then please contact us for a free consultation.