Texting and Driving is Kind of Illegal Now (in Florida)



On October 1, 2013 (it’s still 2013 right?) I learned that Texting and Driving was now Illegal in Florida (kind of). I wasn’t really sure what else was illegal though. Is it just texting? What about iMessaging? What about Facebook messenger? What about Instagramming or Snap Chatting? Can I still send the Tweets? Can I still Candy Crush in my car? Am I allowed to answer the phone? Can I change the music on my iTunes or Spotify, if I’m listening to it in the car? (All of these questions and more came into my head at once)

It took me about 10 days, but I finally looked up the actual law. What I found out is that texting and driving isn’t really “illegal,” it’s just “kind of illegal.” What this means is that you can’t be pulled over for texting and driving only, it’s a secondary offense (it can only be added on to something else you were doing). I’m pretty sure the cops can find pretty much any reason to stop you though once they see you texting, and you will go to jail! (Actually you won’t go to jail, I believe there is a small fine, and you might get a point or two on your license if you were within a school zone or your texting ended in an accident).

What exactly counts as “texting and driving?” ‘Prohibiting operation of a motor vehicle while using a wireless device for certain purposes.’ What are these certain purposes? 

You are not allowed to be manually typing or entering letters, numbers, symbols or other characters (so I guess no emojis).

What is still legal? 

Voice Communication: I can still talk on the phone, but can I enter in the numbers to call someone if I don’t have them saved on my phone? That’s a tough one.

Reporting emergency or crime: I’m still allowed to take a picture of a crazy accident to send to my friends, right? Does that count as reporting an emergency or crime?

Navigation: I can still use my phone to get me places, but how am I supposed to type in the destination?

Safety Alerts: I can still receive these strange amber and silver alerts I have been receiving on my phone while driving through sketchy neighborhoods.

Radio Broadcasts: I can listen to my podcasts while I drive to work still (which would be nice, if I actually listened to podcasts while driving…)

A discovery I made is that ‘A legally parked vehicle is not being operated.’ What makes a vehicle legally parked though? If I am at a red light and I throw it into park, am I legally parked and now able to send all the messages, read articles and play candy crush until the light turns green? Do I have to pull into an actual parking spot? Can I pull over to the side of the road? Can I throw my car into park in the middle of the highway if I receive a message? (That last one sounds really dangerous, don’t do that)

So, I guess what I learned is that I can still text and drive and do whatever I want on my phone, as long as I am doing everything else right. The moral of the story is don’t text and drive or you will crash and die, 100% of the time. Thanks for listening, safety first.

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