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Florida Driving and Traffic Laws

Florida is a beautiful state. Its sunny, balmy weather and pristine beaches attract tourists all year round. It is also a primary destination for senior citizens who are looking to retire. Due to the large amount of tourists, retirees, and residents in the states, there are a lot of cars on the highways and local roads in Florida. To travel from Point A to Point B, you will almost certainly have to use your car. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with the state driving laws and practices in Florida is a necessity. The statewide Department of Motor Vehicles is located in Tallahassee, Florida. It is from this center that the governing traffic laws for the state are issued. Knowledge and research are going to be your best aids in avoiding a violation of these laws.

The use of cellular phones while a motorist is driving has become a hotly contested issue across the country, including in Florida. In a study released by the Florida Department of Transportation in 2007, it was discovered that in 2006, cell phone usage contributed to over 1,200 car accidents in Florida. According to the data collected from motorists, there was a forty percent increase in cell phone usage by motorists while they were driving. Currently, there is no statute in Florida law that requires your cell phone to be hands free, nor is there a regulation that bans its usage altogether while operating a vehicle. Several times a year, a rumor will emerge that the state of Florida is going to ban the use of cell phones while driving. While similar legislation was introduced in 2007 and 2008, it has yet succeeded to pass. It is important to note that incorporated cities do have the right to ban cell phone usage within their city limits. You would be wise to inquire of your City Council what your community's requirements are.

In order to obtain a learner's permit in Florida, you must be at least fifteen years of age. Under the restrictions of a learner's permit, you are never permitted to drive alone, regardless of your destination (i.e. work or school). You must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least twenty one years of age. There are state restrictions on the hours that an adolescent with their learner's permit can be driving. Certain cities in Florida have installed an even stricter curfew on young adults and the hours in which they are allowed to be out. If you are caught violating such an ordinance, your learner's permit can be revoked in a manner similar to that of driver's licenses. Also, if you are issued a ticket for speeding or another traffic infraction, you will have to go for twelve months without another violation in order to receive your driver's license. Additionally, if you are reported to be truant from school, your learner's permit will be revoked until you can provide proof that you have attended school for thirty continuous days.

A young adult must hold their learner's permit for twelve months before they are eligible to receive their driver's license. Even after you have reached the age of sixteen and completed your learner's permit requirements, there will still be restrictions on your license while you are sixteen and seventeen. These said restrictions are generally focused around the hours you are allowed to be out and about driving, with the exception that your commute is work related. At age eighteen, all restrictions are lifted.
As you likely know, when an insurance company is assessing the risk value for a potential client, they will consider your driver's license history to be an influential factor. The amount of points you accumulate on your driver's license record is considered to a hallmark of the kinds of driving behaviors you engage in. The following in a breakdown of how, even minor traffic violations, will add points to your driver's license:

  • If you are driving less than fifteen miles over the speed limit, you will have three points added to your record.
  • If you are driving more than fifteen miles over the speed limit, you have will have four points added to your record.
  • If your speeding is the cause of a collision in which there are injuries or fatalities, you will have six points added to your record.
  • If you are convicted of a moving traffic violation (which includes driving as an adolescent during restricted hours), you will have three points added to your record.
  • A moving infraction that results in an accident will add four points to your record.
  • The running of a red light or stop sign will add four points to your license.
  • If you are convicted of reckless driving, you will have four points added to your record.
  • If you leave the scene of an accident in which the resultant damage is more than $50.00, you will have six points added to your record.

If you accumulate more than twelve points on your license in a twelve month period, your license will be suspended for thirty days. An accumulation of eighteen points in eighteen months will result in a three month suspension, and twenty four points in thirty six months will result in suspension for one year. The processes that you will be required to go through to reinstate your license can be costly and time consuming.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (known legally as a DUI) can have a potentially devastating effect on your life. Florida, as well as many other states in the country, has created strict laws and penalties to serve as a deterrent for motorists who are thinking about driving while intoxicated. Florida has enacted what is called a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are under the age of twenty one. If you are pulled over and your blood alcohol content is .02% or above, your driver's license will automatically be suspended for six months. For adults, the blood alcohol limit is .08%.

Florida has a statute in effect called the Implied Consent Law. Basically, what this means is that simply by possessing a driver's license, you are implying that you consent to a chemical test to check for alcohol content if you are asked to do so by police. To refuse to do so could result in you facing stiffer penalties if you are convicted. Repeat DUI offenders in Florida can face the permanent loss of their license, encounter insurance coverage problems, or have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle.

The scope of traffic laws governing Florida's roadways is vast and complex. These laws are set in place to protect you, your loved ones, and other motorists from being involved in a collision. Despite having knowledge of such laws, there are motorists who repeatedly choose to violate them. Even if you have been driving for an extended period of time, it will behoove you to refresh your knowledge of your state's laws. To own and operate a vehicle in Florida is a privilege, not a right. Because most people rely on their cars as their primary means of transportation, why would you want to jeopardize yourself? Know what the laws are and adhere to them at all times.



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