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Texting While Operating a Commercial Vehicle

Effective July 1, 2013, Florida Statute 316.3025(6) prohibits a driver that is operating a commercial motor vehicle from texting or using a handheld mobile telephone. The class of license the driver is holding has no impact.

To be charged under this section the deciding factor is whether or not the vehicle being operated is a commercial motor vehicle or not. In other words, these words only apply to a CDL holder WHILE operating a commercial vehicle. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration created a rule prohibiting the use of a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a commercial vehicle - including a truck or bus. The prohibition includes texting while-driving a commercial vehicle. Although hands-free devices may be used. 

The FMCSA rule provides that: “hands-free use of a mobile telephone is allowed using either a wired or wireless earpiece, or the speakerphone function of the mobile telephone.” 

Attorneys for Texting While Driving a Commercial Vehicle in Florida

With offices in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, FL, the CDL traffic ticket attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represent clients throughout Palm Beach County and Broward County, FL. We understand the special rules that impact the holder of a commercial driver's license in Florida.

We can help you protect your driving record and your CDL license after being issued any type of civil traffic violation or criminal traffic offense. Call (561) 557-8686 to speak to one of our experienced traffic ticket lawyers. 

Definition of Hand-Held Mobile Telephone in Florida

The FMCSA definition of a hand-held mobile device means: 

  • using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to make a call; 
  • dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button; or
  • reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.

Definition of Texting in a Commercial Vehicle in Florida

The term “texting” means “manually entering text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.” The definition of texting includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • short message services;
  • e-mailing;
  • instant messaging;
  • a command or request to access a Web page;
  • pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a call using a mobile telephone; or
  • engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry for present or future communication.

Depending on the number of previous violations, commercial drivers in Florida that violate the no texting rule in Florida can face civil penalties of $500 - $2,750, depending on the number of previous violations. 

A person with previous violations is subject to permanent disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

The no texting while driving a commercial vehicle rule in Florida affects the commercial driver’s employers as well. Companies that use commercial drivers for trucks or buses who require or allow their commercial drivers to violate the rule face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

Exceptions to the No Texting in a Commercial Vehicle Rules

The exceptions to the no texting rules do not apply to local, state or federal employees. Exceptions apply for emergency communications to law enforcement.

For instance, the emergency exceptions are provided for communications between utility drivers and utility contractor drivers during a Level 1 activation of the State Emergency Operations Center, or during a state of emergency declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor.

Commercial drivers are still allowed to text if they pull the vehicle over to the side of the road in a location that does not impede traffic. 

Fine Structure for the Use of Hand-Held Mobile Telephone 

The fine structure for violations of the federal prohibition on the use of a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and texting-while-driving a commercial motor vehicle are listed as follows: 

  • First violation - $500;
  • Second violation - $1,000 and 60-day CDL disqualification;
  • Third and subsequent violation - $2,750 and a 120-day CDL disqualification.

Pursuant to 49 CFR part 383, the violation of the prohibition contained in Florida Statute 316.3025(6) for operating a commercial motor vehicle while texting or using a handheld mobile telephone is defined as a “serious” offense. If a driver receives two or more of any combination of serious offenses within a 3 year period their CDL will be disqualified.

Fines for Texting While Operating a Commercial Vehicle in Florida

The fines for employers who require or allow a CDL holder employee to engage in the prohibited activity of using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and texting-while-driving a commercial motor vehicle include:

  • First violation - $2,750;
  • Second violation - $5,000;
  • Third or subsequent violation - $11,000.

The fine amounts paid by a commercial motor vehicle driver or his or her employer be paid to the Chief Financial Officer and credited to the State Transportation Trust Fund for the repair and maintenance of roads.

Additional Resources

Texting in a Commercial Vehicle in Florida - Visit the website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to read a publication added last updated on may 19, 2016 that explains the prohibition in Florida Statute 316.3025(6) for texting or operating a mobile phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle. 

Mobile Phone Restrictions Fact Sheet - Visit the website of the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration related to rules against using a cell phone or texting while operating a mobile phone. 

This article was last updated on Monday, November 7, 2016.

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