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Florida’s Distracted Driving Laws: the Dos and Don’ts

In 2023, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that nearly 300 fatalities were caused by distracted driving. In addition, distracted driving causes over 54,000 crashes every year. In 2019, the Wireless Communications While Driving Law (also called Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving and detailed in Florida Statute 316.305) was passed to help lower the number of accidents and injuries due to distracted driving. Below, we break down what you can and cannot do with your smartphone while driving to avoid distracted driving penalties and stay safe on the road. 

Distracted Driving Don’ts 

Here are the things that you cannot do, according to Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving law: 

Don’t: Text While Driving 

The primary purpose of the Wireless Communications While Driving Law is to prohibit texting while driving. It’s no surprise that the law doesn’t allow drivers to text while operating a moving vehicle. According to the law, texting is when you type multiple letters, numbers, or symbols into a handheld wireless device capable of messaging and communication. The law makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can pull you over for it. 

Don’t: Read Emails or Texts 

Reading text messages, emails, and social media posts is also illegal. Section 3(a) of the wireless communications law prohibits drivers from “reading data with the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication.” 

Don’t: Wear Headphones While Driving 

In addition to Florida’s texting while driving law, Florida Statute 316.304 prohibits drivers from using headsets or headphones (except for hearing aids) while driving a motor vehicle. However, motorcyclists can use a headset installed in a helmet, which allows them to hear surrounding sounds. The law also permits drivers to use one-ear headsets (such as Bluetooth devices) that allow ambient sounds to be heard. 

Don’t: Use Your Phone in a School or Work Zone 

It’s illegal to hold your phone in your hand while driving in a school or construction zone. This is to ensure the safety of students, staff, and construction workers. If caught, you could get a ticket and have three points assessed on your license. 

Distracted Driving Do’s 

Here’s how to stay on the right side of the law (and the road) when it comes to using your phone in your car: 

Do: Use Handsfree Communication 

Under the law, a handheld wireless device is any device designed for one-handed use that can transmit text or character-based messages, store data, or connect to the internet. You are allowed to use your handheld device to activate or initiate handsfree features in your car, such as Bluetooth or speakerphone. You can also use voice commands.

Do: Navigate Directions 

You’re allowed to use map apps and GPS for directions while driving. 

Do: Adjust and Listen to Your Car Radio 

The law doesn’t limit or discuss car radio use in any capacity. 

Do: Use Your Device to Report an Emergency

One exception to the Florida ban on texting while driving is using your phone to report an emergency or criminal activity. You can report the emergency without getting a ticket, even if you’re driving. 

Do: Receive Messages Related to Safety, Traffic, and Navigation

Even though you’re not supposed to read data on your smartphone while driving, there’s an exception for reading safety, traffic, and navigation system notifications. 

Other Situations Where You Can Use Handheld Devices 

There are a few other exceptions to Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving. These include:  

  • Law enforcement performing official duties. 
  • Emergency vehicles using handheld communication when responding to a call. 
  • When the car is stationary or not operating. 

Injured by a Distracted Driver? The King Law Firm Can Help 

Our legal team at The King Law Firm holds distracted drivers accountable for the injuries caused by their distracted driving. We work with you to understand your injuries and the financial and personal hardships that stem from them. For a free consultation with one of our Ocala distracted driving accident attorneys, call the King Law Firm at 352-269-5929 or contact us online.


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