man in car texting while driving about to have an accident

Whenever a friend of mine from another state would visit me in Florida and I would grab my cell phone while driving, they would be shocked that we had no laws that outlawed cell phone use while driving. It really blew them away when I told them texting while driving wasn’t a primary offense either (you would have had to be pulled over for another offense to receive a violation for texting while driving). Well, all of that changed as of July 1, 2019.

Florida finally got up to speed (no pun intended) and passed a ban on texting while driving that has some teeth. It is now officially a violation to text and drive while your car is moving. And yes, of course, that includes emailing, messaging, snap chatting and anything else you will try to claim you were doing instead of texting. Basically, you can’t manually type anything on your phone while driving.

Now, interestingly enough, the law makes clear that all of these prohibitions are while your car is moving. Meaning, if you are stopped waiting for a train to go by, you are free to text away. Crazy, I know. Not crazy in the sense that if you have a foot on the brake, you’re not really driving because the car is not moving. But crazy in that it’s an enormous change from the current DUI law where you can get a DUI if you are in the backseat taking a nap with the keys in your pocket and the car turned off. But I digress.

You can still operate your phone for navigation, receive weather and emergency reports and of course, talk on the phone (as long as you’re not in a school or construction zone where workers are present in which case you need to be hands-free). I hope you see where this is going. What a mess.

So now an officer is going to have to pull you over and listen to your excuses, I mean explanations of all the things you were doing on your phone that are legal to cover up the fact that you were just doing something illegal on your phone. And to make things more complicated, an officer cannot take your phone to see what you were doing without a warrant. You absolutely have the right to refuse to turn over your phone to a police officer who does not have a warrant.

So where does that leave us? Well on the positive side, anything that gets people to put their phone down while they are driving will no doubt save lives and countless accidents. I’m all for that. The other positive is that between now and January, the police will only be giving out warnings. However, that’s where the positives end.

Because now there is a law that allows the police to pull you over and accuse you of texting while driving without actually having proof that you were texting and driving. They will have to prove it in court, however. Sadly, there will be cases where the police use this new law as a pretext for pulling people over simply because they can. I’d love to think that in 2019, we don’t have police that would do things like that, but I watch the news enough to know better.

If you get pulled over after December, the fine will be $30 and a point will be put your license if you pay it the first time. If you’re caught again in the next 5 years, the fine goes up to $60 and 3 points will be put on your license. Obviously, before you do anything, you should give us a call at 866-374-8355. We’ve been helping Florida drivers avoid points and fines for over 25 years and handled over a million tickets. Just to be safe, reach out to us when you’re not driving.

Frustrated woman wo did not pay traffic ticket on time

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is from panic-stricken clients who call us with fear dripping from their voices. They ask, “What happens if I miss the deadline to pay a ticket?” Well, we’re happy to say the world doesn’t end. However, missing a deadline is not good and will eventually result in negative consequences.   But all is not lost.

Depending on how badly you missed your deadline, you can still fight the ticket.  It just may cost a little more.

All the options you had initially: 1. Pay the ticket and take the points. 2. Pay the ticket and go to traffic school, or 3. Fight the ticket — may still available to you depending on the county.  Most Florida counties will still work with you up to 180 days after the date of incident.

Better than that, you still have time to hire a traffic ticket attorney to fight on your behalf. Who, if he or she does their job right, can usually get the best possible outcome. No Fines, No Points, and No Court Costs.

Remember, traffic citations are big business in Florida. The state wants you to pay the traffic ticket without making a fuss. They’re happy taking your money within 30 days or, even better, the higher amount for a late payment.

Just because the “deadline” for paying a ticket has passed, don’t let the higher amount scare you into paying and running without thinking through your options.

What you absolutely have to remember if you haven’t paid the ticket by the due date is that you MUST TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. The worst thing to do is continue ignoring it. If you do, a simple speeding traffic ticket turns into a major headache. Here’s how:  

By doing nothing, the state will eventually suspend your driver’s license. That could actually result in your getting arrested. If you are stopped by police for any reason and they find that you have a suspended license you can be thrown in jail.

The key is not to let your traffic ticket get to that point. The good news is that just because you are “late,” it doesn’t mean you have to pay or face going to jail.

To recap, the best thing to do is take action by contacting an attorney who specializes in traffic tickets and get a handle on the situation.

Unger and Kowitt will be glad to talk and walk you through your options. Call us at 866-374-8355.

teddy bear wearing a seat belt

The question of whether you can get pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt gets asked quite a bit by clients, and because the law has flip flopped, I can understand the confusion.  Prior to 2009, if a police officer saw you driving without your seat belt, he could not pull you over. You could have waved to him with your seat belt off and there wasn’t much he could do about it.

But in 2009, then Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the ability for police to pull you over if you are not wearing your seat belt.  In doing this, seat belt enforcement went from what’s called “secondary” enforcement to “primary” enforcement.

Now we all like to think the Governor was looking out for the residents of Florida because we all know seat belts save lives and by allowing officers to pull people over, the hope was that more people would buckle up and stay alive.

The reality is, that was probably a nice byproduct, but I’m sure the real reason was that by changing the law, Florida became eligible to receive up to 35 million dollars to promote highway safety.

“What did they do with all this money”, you may ask?  Well, let’s look at two things that we all know promote highway safety that they didn’t do.  They didn’t bring back auto inspections that would get all these cars with bald tires, no windshield wipers and no working headlights off the roads.  Additionally, they didn’t repeal the law that lets people ride motorcycles without helmets.

Oh well, so much for public safety.

Of course, back in 2009 (all of three years ago), seat belt tickets only cost $30, which seemed reasonable.  However, much has changed in the past few years, and what seemed quaint like a $30 fine has now gone up. . . . wait for it . . . .almost 400%.

Yes, you read that right.  In less than 3 years, a ticket for not wearing your seat belt has gone up 400%!!!!!!!  This was during the worse economic period in our lifetime.

The truth is, a seat belt ticket, if it’s the only ticket you receive is around $120.00, but it doesn’t carry points, as it’s a non-moving violation, so you should just go ahead and pay it.

However, if your seat belt ticket came with a moving violation that carries points, and you would like to fight it, please feel free to give us a call for a FREE consultation regarding your case.

Officer issueing a speeding ticket to a Florida driver

One of the questions we ask everyone before they hire us is “how’s your driving record?”  More often than not, the response is “perfect.

Having come across very few actual “perfect” records, we have learned to ask follow up questions that usually lead to a person saying something like “Well, I have no points on my license,” or “I haven’t had a speeding ticket in years. Both of which are nice to hear, but unfortunately, doesn’t mean that the person has a “perfect” record. It means most people really don’t understand how the driving record system works.

If I asked you “How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?” would you know the answer?

Well, don’t worry, my job here on this traffic ticket blog isn’t to try and trick you, it’s to educate you.  So here goes.

Your driving record, is your record FOREVER.  That ticket your received when you were 16 . . .it’s on there.  The speeding ticket you thought no one knew about because you went to traffic school . . . it’s on there.

When we run a person’s record, because they swore they never had a ticket, there is always that weird moment, when I bring up a speeding ticket from their past and the response is “Oh, I didn’t think that was still on there.”

Part of the confusion is that the points that you may have received from paying a ticket or from a judge, will only stay on your record for 3 years, but your record is your record forever.

According to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, speeding ticket violations, where a person elected traffic school, has to stay on the record forever, because the state has to keep track of how many times you went to school.

Other speeding ticket results will be on your record for 75 years (which is essentially forever, because even if you got your speeding ticket at 16, that would mean you’d be 91 when it came off the record and who are we kidding, you probably shouldn’t be driving at 91)

Here’s another question.  “How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record if you hire a traffic attorney to fight it and it gets dismissed?”  HA! That’s a trick question.  By fighting a speeding ticket successfully and getting the case dismissed, it will NEVER appear on your record. 

See why I preach to ALWAYS FIGHT YOUR TICKETS.  So if you have a speeding ticket and think it’s no big deal to just pay it and go to school, think again.  Getting that ticket dismissed is the only way to keep it off your driving record.  That’s why, before you do anything, you should go get a free consultation with a traffic attorney.