Anyone familiar with the roads in Florida are well aware that navigating the thoroughfares can be a challenge for several reasons.
Its starts with the varying driving styles that people from all over the world bring to the Sunshine State. The roads are generally flat and heavy downpours in the summertime always make the experience “interesting.” Then there’s the large number of driver’s 65 years of age an older. Florida also has more toll roads and bridges than any other state.
Florida traffic laws have their share of quirks as well, including more recent distracted driving laws.
There are also some pretty severe drunk driving laws in Florida. Here is a closer look at driving laws of which you should be aware.
Florida Cell Phone Laws While Driving
In 2016 it was estimated some 50,000 accidents resulted from drivers who were distracted. In an effort to ease distracted driving in Florida, the state has designated some 64 rest areas, service plazas, and welcome centers as “Safe Phone Zones.”
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In spite of these concerns, you can still talk on a cellphone and legally drive. If, however, it leads to an accident you can be ticketed as part of Florida’s distracted driving laws. Cell phone driving laws in Florida, however, do prohibit texting and driving.
Florida Texting and Driving Laws
In-state texting and driving laws make an initial texting while driving infraction a noncriminal traffic violation. However, if a second offense occurs within 5 years of the initial citation it is considered a noncriminal traffic violation that is punishable as a moving violation. Texting and driving laws in Florida make it a secondary offense, meaning you can only be cited if stopped for another violation.
It carries a $30 fine for an initial violation. According to a recent survey, Florida was ranked as having the second most distracted drivers of any state, led only by Louisiana.
Drunk Driving Laws in Florida
While many states have laws with minimal punishments, drunk driving laws in Florida carry maximum penalties.
Like every other state, Florida has a legal BAC content of .08%. First-time offenders can get up to six months in jail and fines and penalties ranging from $500 to $2,000. License suspensions can range from 6 months to a year. Fines and jail times for second offenses can increase from 150% to 200% of first-time offenders. Drunk driving laws in Florida are also intended to impact repeat offenders, those with passengers under the age of 18 and those that result in significant injuries to others.
Florida Toll Road Laws
With so many toll roads in Florida, it is best to have a SunPass or plenty of quarters in your car. Some areas, like Miami-Dade County, don’t provide an option for cash. The state, however, recognizes that toll road confusion can cause accidents. Therefore, they actually recommend continuing through a toll plaza where a photo of your license plate will be taken. You will then receive an invoice that must be paid within 10 days.
If the invoice isn’t paid promptly, it will lead to additional fines and can prevent you from completing your vehicle registration renewal when the time comes.
Tinted Window Laws in Florida
Due to the amount of heat and sunshine in the state, many vehicles make use of tinting on the windows of their vehicles to limit sun fading and to keep vehicles cooler. Florida driving laws restrict how dark the tint can be on your vehicle’s windows are, however. It varies by type of vehicle.
For sedans, for example, non-reflective tint is only allowed above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line. Front side windows need to allow more than 28% of the outside light in while back side and rear windows are required to allow more than 15% of outside light in. Driving laws in Florida for tinted windows are similar for SUVs and vans but back side and rear windows can be darkened to allow for just 6% or more of light.
Florida Traffic Light Laws
Florida traffic laws related to stop lights dictate that motorists must “come to a complete stop” when approaching the marked stop line. Once stopping, the driver can move into the crosswalk or intersection. Florida allows right turns on red following a complete stop unless there is a “No Turn on Red” sign displayed.
Florida Traffic Stop Laws
In Florida, the state seeks to protect both the officer and the driver during a traffic stop. You have a right to personal safety and to not incriminate yourself. An officer may ask “Do you know why I pulled you over?” to try to illicit a response of guilt.
Likewise, a consent to search your vehicle may uncover evidence you didn’t remember or know was there. If you feel you are being detained unfairly, ask if you are free to go. This will indicate whether you are under arrest or not. If arrested you have the opportunity to talk with an attorney before answering any further questions.
At the same time, you should understand the officer has concerns for his or her own safety. Don’t make sudden moves, keep your hands in, view, and be polite. There is little to gain from being combative.
When being stopped for a traffic violation in Florida, like most states, you will be asked for a driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
If any of these are invalid or expired, it will cause additional problems. It is always in your best interest to keep these papers updated and available.