Traffic laws and right-of-way rules differ across state lines. Do you know your rights on the road in Florida? Read on to learn how you can help prevent accidents and do your due diligence as a responsible driver.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in the state of Florida. For first-time convictions, offenders can receive a fine between $500-$2,000 if their blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08% or above. If their BAC reaches 0.15% or higher on the first offense, they can receive a fine between $2,000 and $4,000. They may also receive community service requirements, probation or imprisonment at the court’s discretion.
Cell Phone Use
(This section has been updated as of July 3, 2019, to reflect recent traffic law put into effect.)
Texting while driving in Florida has never been permitted but is now considered a primary offense as of July 1, 2019. When it was only considered a secondary offense, it meant that drivers could only be cited for texting while driving if they were stopped primarily for another offense, such as speeding or running a red light.
What does this mean now? Now, drivers can be stopped and cited just for texting while driving on its own, without needing another primary offense first to pull them over. Learn more by reading our recent article: Florida's New Texting and Driving Law Goes Into Effect July 1st.
Comparative Fault for Injuries
In the state of Florida, financial liability in a car accident is determined by comparative negligence. In a personal injury case, the court assigns a percentage of blame for each party involved and awards damages proportionately. What does this mean? If you are involved in a car accident, you have the right to sue even if you were at fault. If the court finds you less than 100% liable, your financial burden may be reduced.
Traffic lights are generally straightforward—the red light means stop. However, unless there is a posted sign or notice saying otherwise, in Florida drivers may turn right on red after coming to a complete stop. Additionally, cameras are installed at many intersections to document motorists who violate red lights. There have been arguments persuading that red light cameras actually decrease public safety, but the Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2018 preserves that the cameras will stay. Violators may receive a $158 fine per infraction.
The Florida Safety Belt Law of 2009 requires that all drivers, all front passengers and any passengers under the age of 18 fasten their seat belts. The driver is considered responsible for any minors in the vehicle. However, there are some exceptions to this law, including:
- A certified individual (with proof of certification) that has been diagnosed with a medical condition that causes seat-belt use to be dangerous
- A newspaper delivery employee while delivering newspapers
- AA passenger of a school bus purchased prior to 2000
Move Over, Florida!
According to section 316.126 of Florida Statute, drivers are required to move over a lane when sharing the road with stopped law enforcement or emergency vehicles—if they’re able to safely do so. Violating this law can result in a fine, fees or points on your license. Here are some tips on how to safely abide by the Move Over Law:
- If you’re driving on a two-lane road or can’t move over safely, slow down 20 m.p.h. less than the current speed limit.
- If the posted speed is less than 20 m.p.h., slow down to 5 m.p.h.
Sharing the Road
In Florida, it’s important to know who has the right of way in different situations. Unfortunately, there aren’t any laws that explicitly state who has the right of way—only who must yield the right of way. When sharing the road with other vehicles, the person who must yield right of way differs between stop signs, open intersections and roundabouts. Be sure to pay attention to all posted traffic signals and signs to know when you should be the one yielding.
Pedestrians & Bicyclists
When it comes to sharing the road, the motorist is responsible for doing everything possible to avoid a collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist. As a general rule in most situations, vehicle drivers must yield to a pedestrian. Here are a few tips about sharing the road with pedestrians and bicyclists in Florida:
- Where a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian may walk on the road. It is your responsibility as a driver to maintain your distance from them.
- Bicyclists, skaters and skateboarders in a crosswalk or driveway are considered pedestrians, so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings and take proper measures to yield accordingly.
- When passing a bicyclist, reduce your speed and allow three feet of clearance.
Car accidents that involve motorcycles can be even more dangerous than the average fender bender. Often, these accidents can be fatal. In order to stay alert and avoid a collision, follow these tips when sharing the road with motorcyclists:
- Although it has been legalized in some states, lane splitting—when a motorcycle drives between lanes—is not permitted, according to Florida Statute 316.209. If you are a motorcyclist, avoid lane splitting at all costs.
- Similarly, passenger vehicles may not share lanes with a motorcycle—though motorcycles may share the lane with one other motorcycle.
- In Florida, the weather can suddenly change from sun to a thunderstorm at the drop of a hat. Wind gusts and rain affect motorcyclists more than an average passenger vehicle. Be aware of motorcyclists that need to pull over or stop suddenly.
Accidents happen. Even responsible drivers who take precautionary steps to avoid car accidents are at risk. The steps taken following a car accident are also important. If you’re involved in a car accident and find yourself wondering if you really need a lawyer, remember that you have rights under the law to prevent you from having to pay for someone else’s negligence.
At The Law Firm of Cohen & Cohen, we’re dedicated to helping make the aftermath of auto accidents simpler and less stressful for accident victims. Find even more helpful information and resources like this in any of our other blog articles or schedule a consultation today.