For Commercial Drivers In Florida Texting While Driving Can Get You Pulled Over - Personal Injury Legal Blogs Posted by Attorneys - Lawyers.com

For Commercial Drivers In Florida Texting While Driving Can Get You Pulled Over

Florida’s new Texting while driving statute will have little effect on
commercial drivers in the state. Though the new law applies to
commercial drivers, federal regulations for commercial drivers already
prohibit texting and carry far more severe penalties.

The New Florida Law

SB 52,
signed by Gov. Scott at the end of May, makes texting while driving a
nonmoving violation. It is punishable by a $30 fine for the first
offense. A second violation within 5 years incurs a $60 fine.

It is also a “secondary offense”, meaning law enforcement cannot pull
over a driver without another violation observed. There is also an
exception that permits texting while stationary in traffic or at a stop
light.

Federal Regulation 49 CFR 392.80

Commercial drivers should concentrate on the prohibitions of the federal
regulations. In 2011, the Department of Transportation published 49 CFR 392.80, Prohibition Against Texting. It applies to all commercial drivers in the U.S. as well as motor carriers.

Trucking companies are prohibited from permitting or requiring its
drivers to text while driving. A commercial driver is prohibited from
sending or reading a text message while driving. Driving includes
periods where the carrier is stopped at a traffic light or momentarily
stopped in traffic. The ban is stricter than Florida law in this
respect.
A motor carrier is permitted to send or read text messages in 2
instances: 1) if pulled off safely to the side of the road and 2) to
notify law enforcement or emergency vehicles of an emergency situation.

Unlike the Florida law, it is not a secondary offense. If observed by
law enforcement, the driver may be pulled over and cited, regardless of
whether another driving violation was observed. The Florida law cannot
be used as a defense. The commercial driver cannot assert that they
complied with Florida state law. If they are under the jurisdiction of
federal law, the federal law takes precedence.

The penalties for violating regulation 49 CFR 392.08 are far more severe
than the $30 fine in Florida. A driver or motor carrier can be fined
up to $2750. Under 49 CFR 371, a driver faces a 60 day disqualification
for a second offense and 120 days for a third offense, provided the
offenses are in a 3 year period. If disqualified, a driver is prohibited
from operating a commercial vehicle.

Both commercial drivers and trucking companies should be aware of the
new federal regulations. For attorneys representing parties injured
while a commercial driver was texting, knowledge of the new rules are a
must. For people injured by a commercial carrier who was texting while
driving, they should contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in trucking accidents, and well versed in commercial driving regulations.Florida’s new Texting while driving statute will have little effect on
commercial drivers in the state. Though the new law applies to
commercial drivers, federal regulations for commercial drivers already
prohibit texting and carry far more severe penalties.

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