Under a new law, motorists who text while they drive now face harsh penalties.
Prior to July 1, 2019, texting while driving was illegal in Florida, but it was difficult for police departments to enforce. Today, texting while driving is still illegal in the state, but a new law that went into effect last summer makes it a much more serious offense. Individuals charged with texting and driving should know that there are defenses available. A Florida criminal defense lawyer can help those charged build a strong case to give them the best chance of beating the charges.
The Law on Texting and Driving in Florida
Prior to July 1, 2019, texting and driving was considered a summary offense. This means that although a motorist could face texting and driving charges, he or she could not be pulled over solely for the offense. Instead, police officers could only charge someone with the offense if the driver was pulled over for another infraction, such as faulty tail lights or speeding.
The new law makes texting and driving a primary offense. This means that law enforcement can pull a motorist over if an officer suspects that a driver is texting while driving and not violating any other law.
The penalties for texting and driving are somewhat harsh. A first offense comes with a $30 fine as a non-moving violation. Individuals will also have to pay court costs. A second offense increases the fine to $60 for those convicted. Individuals convicted will also have three points added to their license, regardless of whether a conviction is a first, second, or subsequent offense.
Small fines and a few points may not sound like serious penalties to some. However, when a person incurs too many points on his or her license, then that person risks losing it, which is why it is so important that people prepare the best defense possible.
Defenses to Texting and Driving
No one should stand for a texting and driving conviction, no matter how small they may think the penalties are. A solid defense can prevent a person from paying fines and court costs and keep points off of a driver’s license. The common defenses to texting and driving include:
- Misidentification: Sometimes, police officers simply get it wrong. They may see one person texting and driving, but instead pull over another car that is the same model.
- Not texting: Whether you were using your GPS, or even just moving your phone, if you were not texting, you cannot be convicted of the offense.
- Errors with search: It is imperative that all drivers understand that they are under no obligation to hand over their phone, nor can police search a phone without a warrant. If they do, any evidence obtained during that search is inadmissible.
These are just a few of the most common defenses to texting while driving. A criminal defense lawyer can help you create your defense after reviewing the facts of your case.
Facing Charges? Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with texting and driving, do not assume that you will be convicted. Our Daytona Beach criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Robert Stepniak can help. Attorney Stepniak knows the new law on texting and driving, as well as the defense to these charges. Call us today to schedule a meeting and give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome.