Grace Period Ends: Will Florida’s Hands-Free Law Prevent Miami Car Accidents?

alexandre-boucher-582082-unsplash-copy-300x200Every new year brings new laws in Florida, and 2020 is no different. A Miami Herald article dated December 31, 2019 described several key pieces of legislation that became effective on January 1, from an increase in the smoking age to a higher minimum wage. The article also pointed out that police would be stepping up enforcement of the state’s hands-free driving law. As you might recall, legislators passed the measure for an effective date of July 2019, but there was a grace period to allow motorists to get used to following it. As of the first day of 2020, officers would no longer allow drivers to get away with certain forms of cell phone use while operating a car. 

Still, there will always be people who do not comply with the law, so the threat of distracted driving auto collisions is still very real. You should talk to a Miami car accidents attorney if you were hurt in such an incident, but read on for an overview of the relevant legal concepts.

Summary of Florida’s Hands-Free Law

Texting while driving has been prohibited for years in the Sunshine State, but it was subject to secondary enforcement prior to July 2019. With the new law, police can ticket drivers through primary enforcement, which means officers do not need to observe another traffic violation to issue a ticket. However, the law allowed law enforcement the option to offer a grace period from July through December 31, 2019. For those six months, police could issue a verbal or written warning instead of writing up a ticket.

Now, police will engage in primary enforcement when they see motorists texting while driving. Note that drivers can still conduct certain phone-related tasks, including hands-free calling and GPS devices.

Your Rights as the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident

Even if the at-fault driver does get a ticket for violating the law, that penalty does not compensate you for your losses as an injured victim. You may be entitled to recover monetary damages, but you will need to prove that the other motorist was negligent; using a cell phone while driving is strong evidence of negligence. Your first step in obtaining compensation is filing an insurance claim, but you may need to file a lawsuit in court if the insurer is unwilling to pay a fair amount to cover your losses. In a successful claim or litigation, it is possible to recover for:

  • The medical costs you incur for treatment;
  • Your lost wages, if you were unable to work after being hurt;
  • Pain and suffering; and,
  • Many other monetary damages, depending on your unique circumstances.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with a Miami Car Accidents Lawyer

You can be sure that distracted driving will continue to be a threat on Florida’s roadways, despite police enforcement of the new hands-free law. Fortunately, you do have legal remedies if you were injured in such a collision. To learn more about them, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.