Florida Prohibits Holding a Cell Phone in a Construction or School Zone
Distracted driving is a killer, and there is perhaps no greater contributor to distracted driving than cell phone use. Florida continues to crack down on motorists who pull out their phones while driving, and a law that went into effect recently prohibits drivers from holding a cell phone when they are in either a construction zone or a school zone. With luck, the law will reduce the number of distracted driving car accidents in Florida.
Put Down that Phone
The new law went into effect October 1, 2019, and it allows police to give tickets to anyone holding a phone in a school crossing, school zone, or active construction zone. Drivers face the following penalties:
- $60 fine
- County assessment taxes
- Three points on their license
This is also a “primary” offense, which means police are empowered to stop you if they catch you holding a phone in a prohibited zone. With a secondary offense, officers need another reason to stop you, such as speeding, but may ticket you if they realize after you are stopped that you have broken some other law. With the ban on holding a device, police can pull you over for that reason alone.
Use a Hands-Free Device
Drivers who receive a call while in a school or construction zone can tap the phone to connect to the call, but they cannot hold the phone. This essentially means that drivers can only use a hands-free device when in a prohibited area. However, as Lt. Kim Montes told FloridaToday.com, if you use a hands-free device, then you cannot have an earbud in both ears. One ear must be free.
The hands-free device should be properly mounted on the dash so that you never have to hold it. Ideally, there should be voice activation so that a person can answer the phone without even needing to tap anything. Instead, keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. And, if possible, wait until you are out of the zone before engaging in a conversation.
Did a Driver Hit You while Talking on the Phone?
Any driver who breaks the law can also face legal liability if they end up hitting someone in a school or work zone. Florida’s negligence law makes drivers responsible when they operate their vehicles negligently and harm someone in the process.
Distracted driving almost always qualifies as negligence, because a careful driver will not be scrolling through their phone or making a phone call while a vehicle is in motion. Drivers also must operate their vehicles more carefully when they are in a school zone or construction zone. For example, they should reduce their speed and give more room to vehicles in front of them so they can brake suddenly, if necessary.
At Earnhart Law, we excel at bringing claims for compensation after a car wreck. One of our Delray Beach car accident attorneys can meet with you to review the surrounding circumstances. For help getting started, please contact us at 561-265-2220 to schedule your free consultation.