Florida's distracted driving laws prohibit all motorists from text messaging while operating a vehicle and using a cellphone for any purpose in certain locations. This article covers the specifics of the law and the costs of a texting or cellphone ticket.
Florida law prohibits using a handheld "wireless communication device" while operating a vehicle in any school zone, school crossing, or work zone. The definition of a wireless communication device is broad and includes cellphones, tablets, laptops, and similar devices.
Florida's distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from using a wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text message, including instant messages and email. Basically, a "wireless communication device" includes all cellphones, tablets, and similar devices that are capable of text-based communications or connecting to the Internet.
Florida's distracted driving laws contain a number of exceptions. The law doesn't apply to:
The distracted driving restrictions don't apply when a person is in a vehicle that's in autonomous driving mode.
Texting tickets. Texting-while-driving is a noncriminal traffic infraction in Florida. Depending on the circumstances, a texting ticket might cost the driver somewhere in the range of $100 to $200.
Wireless device tickets. Unlike texting violations, a wireless-device violation is considered a moving violation. A wireless-device ticket will result in three demerit points and might cost the driver something like $130 to $230, depending on the circumstances. However, for a first offense, the driver can opt to complete a wireless communication device driving safety program, and the court will waive the fine and points.
Enforcement. Distracted driving violations are "primary" offenses—meaning an officer can pull a driver over just for a texting violation. In other words, an officer doesn't need some other reason (like speeding or running a red light) for making the traffic stop. However, officers must inform drivers they stop that they are not required to turn over their devices for inspection.
Depending on the circumstances, a texting or wireless-device violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if a texting offense results in the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are a possibility.