Slow Down, Ricky Bobby: The Most Common Mistakes Made on the Road by Florida Residents

florida residents

More than 18 million people are licensed to drive in the state of Florida. That’s a whole lot of people on the roads in the Sunshine State, and not all of them are following the rules. 

In fact, more than four million traffic tickets are written every year in Florida! We’re going to take a look at the most common mistakes Florida residents make behind the wheel, and why you want to avoid making the same ones.

Speeding

Speeding is the number one reason for traffic tickets. It’s also the number one cause of crashes in Florida. In this state, you can actually receive different types of citations for speeding. It all depends on how fast you were driving and whether other factors were at play. 

You can receive a traffic ticket for either an infraction or a violation. A speeding ticket infraction is a civil matter, meaning it’s not a crime and you won’t face jail time.

Civil infractions are typically issued when you’ve been caught driving less than 20 miles above the posted speed limit. 

Here’s an example: if the speed limit is 45 miles per hour, and you get caught driving 55 mph, you’ll probably receive a ticket for a civil infraction. Get caught doing 65 mph or higher, and you could face criminal charges. 

The typical penalties for civil speeding tickets are fines and points on your license. The fines set by Florida law are:

  • 1-5 mph – Warning
  • 6-9 mph – $25
  • 10-14 mph – $100
  • 15-19 mph – $150
  • 20-29 mph- $175
  • 30 mph and above – $250

Criminal violations can happen if your speed is excessive and/or if there are other factors involved. Those factors could involve:

  • Reckless driving
  • Hit and run
  • Being a habitual traffic offender
  • Vehicular manslaughter or homicide
  • Leaving an accident scene
  • Driving with no valid license
  • Driving with a suspended license with knowledge 
  • Attempting to elude law enforcement

The penalties for these are steep and might include the suspension or revocation of your license. In Florida, citations stay on your record for 10 years, and suspensions stay on for seven to 11 years.

Florida Residents Who Drive Recklessly

Florida law defines reckless driving as a deliberate act, something you do on purpose that jeopardizes the safety of the people around you. Between 2011 and 2015, reckless drivers injured more than 7,000 people and killed more than 1,800 in Florida. 

Reckless driving could include fleeing from the police, excessive speeding, deliberately ignoring traffic signals and ignoring school zones. The penalties are significant and could mean the permanent loss of your driver’s license.

Specifically, for your first offense, you could spend 90 days in jail and pay up to a $500 fine. On your second offense, you face six months in jail and a $1000 fine.

Distracted Driving

Nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured every day in crashes that involve a distracted driver. You’ve probably shared your commute with more than a few of them.

Distracted driving is defined as doing anything that takes your eyes and your attention off the road. It could mean changing the station on the radio, putting on makeup, drinking coffee or texting.

Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds. That’s long enough to cover the length of a football field while driving 55 mph! In 2017, 3,166 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers.

In Florida, it is illegal to text and drive. It’s considered a secondary offense, which means that you can be ticketed for texting while driving only if the law enforcement officer pulls you over for something else. 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Every day, 29 people in the U.S die in car accidents that involve an impaired driver. That’s one death every 50 minutes. In 2016, more than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics!

In Florida, there were 5,223 alcohol-related car accidents in 2016, and 417 were fatal. 

Drunk driving is a serious issue with serious consequences for both the driver and the people he endangers.  You’re considered under the influence if you have a breath alcohol level of .08 or above. 

The law is pretty clear about the financial penalties you face if you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol:

  • First conviction:
    • $500- $1,000.
    • If blood/breath alcohol level (BAL) was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle: $1,000-$2,000.
  • Second conviction:
    • $1,000 – $2,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle: $2,000 – $4,000.
  • Third conviction 
    • $2,000 – $5,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle: Not less than $4,000.

You could also spend time in jail, depending on your BAL and the number of times you’ve been convicted for the same thing in the past:

  • First conviction:
    • Not more than six months.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle: Not more than nine months.
  • Second conviction:
    • Not more than nine months.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months.
    • If the second conviction was within five years of a prior conviction, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. 
  • Third conviction:
    • If the third conviction is within 10 years of a prior conviction, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. 
    • If the third conviction is more than 10 years of a prior conviction, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.

In Florida, under the Implied Consent Law, drivers who sign their license agree to submit to a blood, breath or urine test to determine if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they refuse, they automatically lose their driver’s license for one year.  

Final Thoughts

We’ve talked about the mistakes that Florida residents make on the road and the impact that can have on their driving privileges, not to mention their bank accounts. But, those mistakes can also have a huge effect on your car insurance.

You can accumulate points on your license, which will make your insurance rates increase. If you get a DUI, your rates will skyrocket.

If you’ve gotten a traffic ticket and would like legal advice, please contact us as soon as possible.