Month: January 2019

What You Need to Know About Changes to Florida Driving Laws

What You Need to Know About Changes to Florida Driving Laws

In 2018, Florida legislatures made updates that impact drivers and vehicle owners throughout the state. Some have been in effect for months, others have just or will soon be in effect. Here is what you need to know about changes to laws affecting Florida drivers by land and sea.

Wireless Communication Devices Prohibition

In what would could be described as the legislative updates that affect more Florida drivers than any other bill in 2018, statue 316.05 now includes a “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” section after several bill proposals and revisions.

In summary, typing (texting, emailing, instant-messaging. etc) on a device or reading messages from a device while driving is against the law as of October 1st, 2018. Violators will be ticketed with penalties that escalate for multiple offenses within a 5 year period.

Safety advocates pushed to also change texting while driving to a primary offense. That effort failed (for now) and texting while driving is considered a secondary offense which means that an officer can only pull you over if they see you commit a different driving infraction such as running a red light. Florida joined 40 other states with bans on texting while driving.

Autocycles and Mobile Carriers – House Bill 215

This bill took affect on July 1, 2018 and defines what autocycles and mobile carriers are which helps further define things like how they are taxed and where and how they should be operated.

An autocycle is a vehicle that’s not a tractor and has:

  • Three wheels
  • A steering wheel
  • A seat that does not require the rider to sit astride or straddle the seat.

The bill goes on to define some vehicle operating rules for autocycles:

  • Occupants must wear seat belts
  • Drivers do not have to have a motorcycle license

A mobile carrier does not need to be insured or registered because it is not considered a:

  • Vehicle
  • Motor vehicle
  • Personal delivery device

The bill goes on to define some vehicle operating rules for mobile carriers:

  • Can be operated on sidewalks and in crosswalks which means they (or their operators) have the same rights as all pedestrians and all traffic and pedestrian control signals must be obeyed.
  • Must be equipped with a braking system that allows the mobile carrier to come to a controlled stop.
  • May not transport hazardous materials, animals, or other persons with the later referring to mobile carriers being used as taxi’s.

HB 215  goes on to discuss more detail about mobile carriers as well as outlining some prohibitions for local government on use of existing transportation facility or corridors.

House Bill 1211 – Ellie’s Law

The emergence of the bill is tied to the tragic death of Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg in May 2017. She and her family were on an airboat ride in the Everglades when a collision with broken down airboat resulted in her being ejected and pinned face down in shallow water where she drowned.

Her death prompted a further look into the lack of regulation on the operation of air boats for hire. The following  regulatory measures will take effect on July 1, 2019 as per HB 1211. It requires any person operating an airboat to carry passengers for hire to have all of the following:

  • A picture ID
  • Proof of successful completion of a boating safety education class
  • Proof of completion of a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid course
  • Proof of successful completion of an approved airboat operator course meeting the minimum standards established by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 
  • Proof of a valid captain’s license

Violators will be committing a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable with a 60 day prison sentence or a $500 fine. 

Additionally for the FWC but unrelated to this bill, Florida legislatures passed senate bill 1132 effective January 1, 2019 which updates term minimum (1 year) and maximum (5 years) for vessel safety decals among other things.

Other bills that affect drivers and vehicle owners include:

  • Bill 135 which took affect on October 1st, 2018 and requires to DHSMV to update their vehicle registration application to include language that allows deaf or hard of hearing applicant to indicate voluntarily that they are such.
  • Bill 1361 which takes effect on July 1, 2019 and, among other things, provides some much welcome convenience for driving school students. It will require driver improvement schools to digitally transmit certificates to the Clerk of Courts within 2 days of successful completion which eliminates the need for driving school students to do it.

Safe commuting, Floridians!