Florida Ban On Texting While Driving
Let’s start with the positive. As of Jan. 1, it will be unlawful for drivers to type messages into a smart phone or other mobile devices as they attempt to navigate stop lights, pedestrians and fellow lane-changing drivers.
At long last, Florida has banned texting while driving, the 41st state to do so. (Hawaii beat us by one week.)
In part thanks to the leadership of state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, Florida is finally doing something to make our roads safer.
It’s unfortunate the ban has a gaping flaw. That is, if law enforcement officers catch people texting while driving, they can’t pull them over. The law defines texting as a secondary offense, which means that to be stopped, the offender first must be caught committing another type of driving infraction.
But at least it’s a start. A ban on texting while driving is finally on the books.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the law Tuesday at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Miami. Like so many of us, he wants the days of texting while driving to end with today’s younger generation.
“As a father and a grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me when my loved ones are on the road,” Scott told the crowd. “The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the deadliest days on the road for teenagers. We must do everything we can at the state level to keep our teenagers and everyone on our roads safe. I cannot think of a better time to officially sign this bill into law.”
While no one likes unnecessary government regulation, ensuring our roads and highways are safe is a rightful role of government. Source
Most traffic tickets are issued for “infractions,” which are minor moving violations. Very serious traffic offenses are categorized as “felonies.” However, some traffic offenses fall into the middle category of misdemeanors. Misdemeanors can result in very high fines, imprisonment or loss of driving privileges. Although misdemeanors differ from state to state, there are certain principles that apply to almost all misdemeanors.
While many people instinctively want to “beat the system” after receiving a traffic ticket, there are some factors which should be considered before deciding whether or not it is worth the effort to fight a ticket.
Know The Charge
The most important initial consideration is to know what you are being charged with. A traffic ticket will indicate, usually through a code, what offense the driver committed.
The most important initial consideration depends upon whether you are charged with a “civil infraction” – a traffic offense that carries only a fine and the possibility of “points” on your driving record – or a “traffic misdemeanor”, which is a criminal offense. If you are charged with a traffic misdemeanor, it is a very good idea to consult with a lawyer before deciding how to proceed, as conviction “as charged” will result in your having a criminal record.
Fighting Your Traffic Ticket
Five Strategies for Fighting a Traffic Ticket-Source Nolo.
- Challenge the Officer’s Subjective Conclusion. In many states, with many tickets, it’s possible — and sometimes even fairly easy — to challenge the police officer’s view of what happened. This is particularly likely in situations where a cop must make a subjective judgment as to whether you violated the law. For example, when an officer gives you a ticket for making an unsafe left, you may argue that your actions were “safe and responsible” considering the prevailing traffic conditions. It will always help your case if you can point to facts that tend to show that the cop was not in a good location to accurately view what happened or was busy doing other tasks — for example, driving 50 mph in heavy traffic.
- Challenge the Officer’s Observations. In cases where your state law requires an objective observation by the officer (not a judgment call about whether your action was safe), it often boils down to an argument about whose version of the facts is correct. For instance, if you were cited for failing to come to a stop at a red light or for making a prohibited turn, who wins the case will depend on who the judge believes. Unfortunately, the guy wearing the badge usually wins, unless you can cast real doubt on his ability to accurately perceive what happened. However, there are a number of techniques that may work to raise at least a reasonable doubt as to your guilt.
- Prove Your Conduct Was a “Mistake of Fact”. Judges are allowed some leeway in considering circumstances beyond your control. If you can show that you made an honest and reasonable error, a judge might find you made a “mistake of fact,” meaning your ticket should be dismissed.
- Prove Your Conduct Was “Legally Justified”. You may also successfully argue that your actions were “legally justified” considering the circumstances of your alleged violation. For example, if you were charged with driving too slowly in the left lane, it is a legal defense in all states that you had to slow down to make a lawful left turn. In this situation you do not have to deny that you were driving significantly below the speed limit and causing vehicles behind you to slow down, but you can offer the additional fact that legally justifies your otherwise unlawful action.
- Prove Your Conduct Was Necessary to Avoid Harm. Emergencies not of your own making are often another legal “necessity” defense, recognized in all 50 states. To take an extreme example, you should be able to beat a charge of speeding if you can prove you sped up to avoid an out-of-control truck. The key here is to convincingly argue that you were forced to violate the exact wording of a traffic law in order to avoid a serious and immediate danger to yourself or others.
It is always beneficial to consult with a criminal defense attorney when you are charged with a criminal offense, including a traffic misdemeanor (e.g., reckless driving, drunk driving, or driving with a suspended license).
West Palm Beach DUI/DWI Attorney
It is not illegal to drink and drive in Florida, so long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not over .08 or your normal faculties are not impaired. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we advise our clients to neither blow into a breathalyzer machine nor do a roadside test. Why give evidence to the state if you don’t have to?
The most important thing in DUI/DWI cases is early intervention by your attorney. This preliminary involvement will help you avoid the consequences of a conviction, which are very serious in Florida. We will also represent you at your hearing before the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in order to protect your right to drive.
There are defenses in DUI accident cases, which an experienced and capable lawyer can use. Even if you made a statement to police during your arrest, our lawyers can usually get that evidence thrown out of court. Any statement you give officers cannot be used against you due to the Florida accident report privilege.