Blog

Moving Violation

Good Ruling for Commercial Drivers in Florida

In Florida if you possess a regular drivers license, and you receive a moving violation, you have three options for non-mandatory traffic infractions:

  1. Elect a driver improvement school
  2. Pay the citation
  3. Elect to fight the citation in Court.

However, the options available to a commercial driver are limited as they can pay the citation or fight the ticket in Court.

Until a memo from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor VehiclesDHSMV) began circulating on January , 2014, it was commonplace for a Judge to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver if the facts and driving record warranted such a result. A withhold of adjudication would mean that a driver wouldnt receive point on their license BUT the violation would still appear on their record as has been commonplace for years.

Since the memo began circulating over a year ago, each county has been inconsistent with their interpretation of the memo and the sentences they were imposing on a commercial driver appearing before them. In an order from Sarasota County (State v John Brandy, 2014 TR 15144 NC) Judge Phyllis Galen on March , 2015, the Judge ruled that the Court has the authority to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver appearing before them on a moving violation. The Judge discussed the separation of powers between the branches of Government and opined that under Florida Law, a withhold of adjudication is NOT masking since the violation still appears on a driving record.

Finebloom, Haenel, and Higgins have been representing motorists across the State of Florida for over 10 years. David Haenel, one of the partners is the former Florida Bar Traffic Court Rules Committee chairman. They can be reached at 1-800-FIGHT-IT (344-4848)

Australian Girl Tells Police “I Just Don’t Care” After Injuring Bicyclist While Texting and Driving

In September, an Australian girl hit a bicyclist stopped on the side of the road while she was texting and driving.  According to police, in the minutes before the accident, she had been texting with seven different phone numbers and had sent 44 texts while driving over the span of 20 minutes.  One text was sent just seconds before phone records show she called police about the accident.

According to the police report, the girl hit the bicyclist, parked her car and called the Australian version of 911, but refused to check on the man that she hit or speak to anyone at the scene.  A few days later when speaking to police, she told them that “I just don’t care because I have already been through a lot of bullsh!t and my car is, like, pretty expensive and now I have to fix it”.  She also seemed to be angry with the man on the bicycle for hitting her car.  The victim of the accident sustained serious spinal injuries and it is possible that he could end up a paraplegic.  He spent three months in the hospital.

While awaiting trial for driving while texting, the girl had her license suspended and posted multiple updates on Facebook about not having her license with comments about how much it sucked, how it was coming from the moment she got the keys and how she was hoping she could get a better picture taken for her license when she got it back.  She appeared to believe from her Facebook posts that she would be getting her license back in May, but a judge saw things differently, pulling her license for an additional 9 months at her trial on April 15, 2014.

While this case is one where Australian law was applied, texting while driving is a problem in this country as well, with many states combating it with new laws.  Florida is one of those states, but the fight against texting and driving here has been difficult.  In October, a ban on texting on driving went into place in Florida, however, it is less comprehensive than many other states.

In Florida, someone can be fines $30 for texting while driving, but it is considered a secondary offense.  This means that someone can only be cited for it if they do something else illegal at the same time, such as running a red light or speeding.  Florida law only allows for police to pull a person’s phone records to prove they were texting while driving if there is a death or personal injury and that is the suspect cause.  Unlike many other states in this country, there is no ban on talking on the phone while driving.

One Florida lawmaker has been making a push towards criminalizing causing a death while texting and driving, something that does not exist under the current law.  Under the proposed law, someone could get the equivalent sentence as they would get for vehicular manslaughter if someone were killed in an accident caused by texting and driving.  It remains to be seen if this law will pass and be signed and considering that the recent ban on texting and driving was considered to be a hard sell, passage of the new bill seems unlikely.