Operation Southern Shield: Florida Cracks Down on Speeding Motorists

speeding

Floridians received more than 187,000 speeding tickets last year. Speeding was a factor in nearly nine percent of fatal crashes

Statistics like those are what prompted law enforcement agencies in Florida and four other southern states to launch an annual operation to cut down on speeding on major interstates.

We’ll take a look at Operation Southern Shield and how this yearly event helps save lives.

Operation Southern Shield

Operation Southern Shield is a joint law enforcement operation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This crackdown focuses on high-speed corridors in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In Florida, the targeted roads are Interstate 10, Interstate 75 and Interstate 95.

Data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shows the Sunshine State reported more than 10,590 crashes in 2018 that involved speeding or driving too fast for conditions. And speeding was a contributing factor in more than 270 fatalities.

Operation Southern Shield started back in 2017 when NHTSA reported nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States were related to speeding. Since then, law enforcement agencies participate in the week-long campaign every summer.

Speed Limits in Florida

There are so-called standard speed limits in Florida that you should be aware of. Understand though, these speed limits may be adjusted up or down depending on a variety of factors, including construction areas and school zones.

Here’s a look at some of the most common speed limits to know:

  • Municipal Speed Areas: 30 mph
  • Business or Residential Area: 30 mph
  • Rural Interstate: 70 mph
  • All Other Roads and Highways: 55 mph

As we mentioned, there are exceptions to this. For example, the speed limit on major interstates like I-75 is 70 mph in some areas. However, you should never assume the speed limit is 70 mph, just because you’re driving on an interstate. Always watch for the posted speed limit signs and adjust your speed accordingly.

Fines for Speeding

If you get caught driving above the speed limit, you will get a ticket. You’ll have to pay a fine and be assessed points against your driver’s license.

Speeding tickets in Florida are handled by individual counties. That means the penalties will vary somewhat depending on where you received the ticket.

For example, if you’re caught driving 15 miles over the speed limit in Orange County, you’ll pay a $254 fine. That same ticket in Miami-Dade County will cost you $276. 

In Florida, speeding tickets are considered to be noncriminal traffic infractions. That means, you won’t go to jail if your only infraction is speeding. The penalties are based on how far over the speed limit you were driving.

So, your penalty for driving five miles over the limit will be less than if you were caught going 25 miles over. The fines are assessed in increments of five miles an hour. 10-14 mph, 15-19 mph and so on. 

Now, the fines are much higher in certain circumstances. For example, the penalty is doubled if you speed through a school zones. The same is true if you speed through a construction zone when workers are present.

Additional Penalties for Speeding

If you get a speeding ticket in Florida, you have 30 days to either pay it or contest it. If you contest a ticket, that means you formally object to something about it.

You might disagree with the speed you were assessed, or you might challenge the method used. For example, you might claim the radar detector used by the officer wasn’t working properly.

If you agree to pay it, you’re admitting guilt. You won’t be able to change your mind later.

We talked about the fines a little earlier. In addition to fines, you’ll also be assessed points against your license.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigns a point value to different kinds of traffic offenses. As you might imagine, more serious offenses are assigned a higher point value.

When you get a speeding ticket, you’ll receive a certain number of points. Those points become part of your driving record.  Your insurance company will see the number of points you have and may raise your rate. 

In Florida, a speeding ticket will result in three points assessed. However, if you’re caught driving more than 50 mph over the speed limit, you’ll get four points. Reckless driving will also get you four points. 

If you accumulate enough points, you could lose your license. The Florida DMV will suspend your license if you accumulate 12 points or more in one year.

What to Do If You Get Pulled Over

Traffic stops can become dangerous for both drivers and law enforcement officers. That’s why it’s especially important to know what to do when you see flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

First, slow down and pull over to the right of the road you’re on. If you feel it’s unsafe to immediately pull over, then signal the officer to acknowledge him or her. For example, you might put your hazards on or roll down your window and point in the direction of the exit you plan to take.

The important thing is to make sure the officer knows you’ve seen him or her and are attempting to comply with the stop in a safe way. If you need to continue driving to a well-lit area, keep your speed well below the limit and your hazards on.

Second, when you’ve come to a complete stop, roll down your window. Traffic stops can be dangerous for law enforcement officers, so you want to make sure they can easily see you and the inside of your vehicle.

Finally, provide the officer with the information he requests. Typically, this is your license and registration. If you need to open your glove box or reach into your purse, tell the officer before you do that. Simply say, “I need to open the glove box to get the registration. May I do that?” 

Final Thoughts

We’ve discussed the issue of speeding enforcement and Operation Southern Shield here, but did you know you can also get a ticket for driving too slowly?

You should not drive so slowly that you block other vehicles that are moving at normal, safe speeds. When the posted speed limit is 70 mph, the minimum speed limit is 50 mph.

If you’ve gotten a speeding ticket, consult with an attorney who can advise you. Contact us for a free consultation with a Florida lawyer. Florida Ticket Firm can help.