If you use your cell phone while driving in Florida, you could face criminal charges. However, you could also be responsible for civil damages if you cause a car accident while using a cell phone while driving. Unfortunately, the threat of civil and criminal penalties for cell phone use while driving does not deter all drivers from this dangerous driving behavior.
Some of the consequences that you might face if you ignore warnings against using your cell phone while driving include:
You Could Cause a Motor Vehicle Accident
One of the most serious consequences of using a cell phone while driving is the possibility of causing a traffic accident. When you use a cell phone while driving, you engage all three primary distractions that increase the risk of causing a motor vehicle accident.
The three main types of distractions while driving are:
- Manual – A driver removes his hands from the steering wheel;
- Visual – A driver takes his eyes off the road; and,
- Cognitive – A driver thinks about something other than the task of driving.
Texting or using a cell phone while driving distracts the driver in all three areas of distraction. This level of distraction greatly increases the driver’s risk of causing a traffic accident.
If a driver causes a car accident because the driver was using a cell phone while driving, the driver might be liable for damages caused by the accident. Damages from a car accident may include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Personal care costs and help with household chores
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Disfigurement, disability, scarring, and impairments
- Diminished quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
The amount of damages depends on the type and severity of the injuries and other factors unique to the car accident case.
You Could Get A Traffic Ticket
Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving Law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while manually using a cell phone or other wireless communications device to email, text, or instant message. The law applies to reading and sending messages or data. Florida made the law a primary offense in 2019, meaning that a police officer can pull over a driver for texting while driving without the driver committing any other traffic offense.
A vehicle that is not moving is not subject to the statute. The statute also has some exceptions, such as reporting an emergency or criminal activity, receiving emergency alerts, using a device for navigation purposes, or using a device that does require manual entry of data or information.
Furthermore, Florida Statutes prohibit the use of handheld wireless communication devices in work zones, designated school crossings, or school zones.
You Could Face Higher Insurance Premiums
Traffic tickets can result in higher insurance premiums. Insurance rates are based on several factors, including driving records. Minor infractions may not have an impact on insurance premiums.
However, texting while driving is a serious violation. Regardless of the laws in Florida, insurance companies view distracted driving harshly. Distracted driving accidents result in thousands of injuries each year.
An insurance company may increase insurance premiums for a conviction for texting while driving or using a cell phone in a school zone, even though it might be a first offense. For repeat offenders, insurance rates could increase substantially.
Your Job Could Be Affected
If a person is required to drive for their job, violating Florida’s laws governing the use of cell phones while driving can cause negative career consequences. In some cases, a person could lose their driving privileges if convicted of violating the texting while driving laws.
Second offenses of violating the cell phone laws within five years can result in a three-point penalty. If the violation is in a school zone, additional points could be assessed. Depending on how many points are against a person’s driving record, the violation could result in a suspended driver’s license.
For commercial drivers and other individuals who must drive for work, using a cell phone while driving could also result in job loss or other negative consequences.
Cell Phone Use Causes Thousands of Car Accidents Each Year
Sadly, cell phone use distracts drivers and causes car crash. When a driver causes an auto accident, that driver can be held liable for injuries and losses caused by the accident. A car accident lawyer can help you file an insurance claim seeking compensation for damages if you are the victim of a distracted driving accident.