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State laws try to address cellphone use behind the wheel

Most people cannot go anywhere without their portable electronic devices, particularly their phones, in hand. As so many accidents have happened due to people using cellphones while behind the wheel, the state has passed laws to help prevent such incidents. Most recently, in early 2019, the Wireless Communications While Driving Law was passed, which deals directly with the holding of cellphones while driving.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, this new law took effect on July 1. It says a lot, but the gist of it is that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while manually entering numbers, letters or symbols into a phone, whether a person is making a call or sending a message. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

Consequences for noncompliance

Police can pull over and give out citations to anyone they catch using handheld devices while driving. The penalties attached to these citations are as follows:

  • First offense: $30 fine plus any additional court and legal fees
  • Second offense: $60 fine minimum, plus court costs and other fees and three points on a license if within five years of the first offense
  • School or work zone offense: Minimum $60 fine, court and additional fees where applicable, three points on a license

This may seem like a minor offense, but these citations can add up over time. Penalties are more severe if an accident causing injury or death occurs.

Handheld cellphone use fits all three distracted driving categories

There are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual is where a person takes his or her eyes off of the road, manual is where a person's hands are not on the wheel and cognitive is where a person simply is not thinking about driving. Handheld cellphone use fits into all three of these categories. So, those who use these devices while driving severely limit their ability to perceive a problem and stop in time.

Did a person using a cellphone while driving cause you or a loved one harm?

If you were hurt or you lost a loved one in an accident caused by a person using a cellphone behind the wheel, you may have legal recourse. State laws are on your side. With the right help, you may be able to prove your case and achieve maximum compensation for your losses, either through negotiation or litigation.

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