Florida Highway Flying Petrol Unit

Better than a Radar Detector…

For those of you who travel on the roadways in the State of Florida, especially the interstate, you must be aware that the Florida Highway Patrol still uses fixed wing aircraft for aerial speed enforcement. Everyday across the State of Florida, pilots, some with over 20 years of experience, fly their airplane in an oval race track format while clocking cars from the air. Troopers on the ground are then contacted by the aircraft pilot and will pull you over and issue you a uniform traffic citation for unlawful speed.

The Florida Highway Patrol Aerial Unit

The Florida Highway Patrol Aerial Unit

How do they do this? There are white lines in the roadway that are one quarter mile (1320ft) in distance from each other. The pilot in the air has a stopwatch, when you cross the first set of white lines the pilot will start the stopwatch and will then stop it when you cross the second set of white lines. The pilot’s stopwatch has a built in formula which determines your speed and the time it takes you to cross the white lines. The troopers on the ground will then issue you a uniform traffic citation for unlawful speed.

A screen shot of the FHP Aerial Unit locations on I-75

A screen shot of the FHP Aerial Unit locations on I-75

If you aren’t familiar with the app Waze, owned by Google, you should check it out when you travel along the interstate. As you see, other Waze users will usually notify you way in advance that the highway patrol has a saturation / aircraft detail going on, giving you more than enough time to get your speed down to the appropriate limit.

If you should receive a citation from the Florida Highway Patrol give us a call to go over the particular facts of your case at 1-800-Fight-It. In the meantime download the Waze app now!lawplacelogo-red-sm

New Changes to the Florida Move Over Law Go Into Effect

On July 1, 2014, changes to the Florida ‘Move Over Law’ went into effect to include more at-risk Failure to Move over Ticket in Floridaworkers in need of protection on Florida roads.  The Move Over Law made it mandatory for drivers to either move over a lane or drastically slow down when some types of emergency or utility vehicles were on the side of the road.  Until July 1, the law mainly covered law enforcement and first responders; it has now been changed to include other vehicles as well, including utility vehicles, sanitation vehicles and tow trucks.

Under the Move Over Law, if a driver is driving on a multi-lane highway and there is one of these vehicles on the side of the road, he or she must move over a lane if it is safe to do so and slow down by 20 MPH.  On narrower, two-lane streets, drivers must slow down by at least 20 miles per hour when they pass one of these vehicles.  If the speed limit is already under 20 miles per hour, a driver must slow down to 5 MPH.

The fine for violating the Move Over Law in Florida is $120, but this can vary depending on which county the violation occurs in.  There is also a three-point penalty on the violator’s driver’s license.

Nearly every state in the country has some sort of Move Over Law on the books.  They were enacted in response to the high numbers of police officers who are killed every year when they are struck by vehicles on American highways.  By one estimate, almost 165 officers died across the nation over a 10-year period.  This does not include other workers who are often struck on the side of the road that this new law is meant to protect, such as tow truck drivers, sanitation and utility workers.

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.