Distracted Driving Can Lead To Serious Criminal Charges In Pinellas County
Distracted driving poses serious hazards on local roads and is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Florida. State laws prohibit the use of cell phones or other electronic devices and you can be pulled over if an officer spots you sending texts or making calls. While generally considered a minor offense, it is important to be aware that it could end up resulting in serious criminal charges in Pinellas County. Our Seminole criminal attorney explains some of the potential ramifications.
Pinellas County Officers On The Lookout For Distracted Drivers
April is National Distracted Driving Month and calls attention to one of the leading causes of car accidents. Unfortunately, in addition to being dangerous, talking on cellphones, texting, taking pictures behind the wheel, and engaging in other activities that divert attention from the road is also one of the most common driving behaviors.
Distracted driving is illegal in Florida and throughout the month, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is increasing efforts at apprehending offenders. As part of the Targeted Response Against Distracted Driving (TRADD) program, drivers in our area can expect to see a heavy police presence on the road and dramatic increases in the amount of distracted driving-related traffic stops.
Penalties For Distracted Driving In Pinellas County And Criminal Ramifications
Under the Florida Statutes, using a cell phone or other electronic communications device is against the law. Unlike some other states, it is a primary offense, meaning that officers can pull you over for it, even if you are following all other traffic laws. Penalties for a first offense are relatively minor and generally include a $30 fine. However, this amount increases with subsequent offenses and could result in points on your driver’s license, increasing already costly insurance premiums and eventually leading to a license suspension.
These penalties are not enough to prevent some motorists from continuing to engage in distracted driving behaviors. However, what they often fail to consider is that being pulled over for distracted driving in Pinellas County could lead to serious criminal charges. By giving police officers a reason to stop you and potentially search you and your vehicle, it can lead to an arrest for the following:
- Driving on a suspended license or without vehicle registration and insurance;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Outstanding criminal warrants;
- Being in possession of drugs, unregistered weapons, stolen items, or other criminal offenses.
In addition to criminal penalties that can result from a distracted driving traffic stop, you can also face civil liability in the event of a distracted driving car accident.
Request A Consultation With Our Pinellas County Criminal Lawyer
In many cases, seemingly minor traffic stops, such as for distracted driving, can end up leading to serious criminal charges in Pinellas County. To protect yourself in this situation and avoid heavy fines, a potentially lengthy jail sentence, and other criminal penalties, reach out to the Reep Law Firm. Call or contact our Seminole criminal lawyer online and request a consultation today.