Florida Traffic Laws Quick Reference Guide
Earning a Florida driver’s license is more than just an accomplishment, it’s a responsibility. Drivers make a commitment to follow laws that are in place to protect themselves and those around them. And to help people remember to follow those laws, Florida has established penalties for breaking them. These penalties can range from fines that are a minor inconvenience, to jail time that could impact your entire life.
Let’s take a closer look at how some of the Florida traffic violations could affect you.
Florida Points System
Florida uses a points system for moving traffic violations. Points accrue with each citation according to a pre-determined point schedule. When you accrue 12 points within 12 months, your license will be suspended for 30 days. Accruing 18 points in 18 months earns you a three-month suspension, and 24 points over 36 months will result in your license being suspended for a full year. Even if you don’t accrue enough points to earn a suspension, any points you do earn will likely result in an increase to your auto insurance rates. So, avoiding the accrual of points is a major motivator for safe driving.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV), the most common traffic violation in the state of Florida by far is speeding. There is strong evidence of a correlation between speeding violations and the incidence of car crashes, so not only does following the speed limit keep you from paying hefty fines, but it can also save your life – or someone else’s life.
The fine you’ll pay in Florida for speeding varies from county to county and is dependent upon how many miles per hour you were exceeding the speed limit. For example, in Orange County (home of Orlando), going 6 to 9 mph over the speed limit will result in a fine of $129, plus an additional $25 if the speeding occurred in a school or construction zone. If you speed 20 to 29 mph over the posted limit in Orange County, you’ll pay $454 in a school or construction zone, or $279 anywhere else. Drivers across Florida who exceed the speed limit by 30 mph or more are required to attend court, where they will face a reckless driving charge and a fine of at least $369.
These penalties are necessary to combat recent increases in speeding incidents. “The trend we are seeing in the number of these dangerous speeding violations is very alarming. It underscores the need for all motorists in Florida to take their driving privilege seriously and to remember that the posted speed limit is not merely a suggestion – it is mandatory to keep everyone safe,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes in a department news release.
Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
Many Florida intersections have red light cameras, which identify vehicles and drivers who fail to stop appropriately for red lights. This is another frequent violation in the state of Florida, and one which often results in traffic accidents. According to TIME magazine, the four most dangerous intersections in Florida are in Astor (Lake County), Orlando (Orange County), Kissimmee (Osceola County), and Hialeah Gardens (Miami-Dade County).
Even when an intersection doesn’t have a red-light camera, drivers are often caught failing to stop at red lights and stop signs when a law enforcement officer witnesses the violation. Regardless of how the violator was caught, fines for this type of citation typically range from $125 to $200.
Failing to use your turn signals to indicate a change of lane or direction is another common citation that drivers in Florida face. Turn signals are to be used continuously beginning at least 100 feet before a change of direction is made. If a vehicle does not have a working turn signal, hand signals may be used according to Florida driving statutes.
In Florida, failing to use a turn signal falls under the heading of “Violation of a Traffic Control Device.” This type of infraction will incur a base fine of $158 and depending on the county in which the citation was given, fees and surcharges may be added to that amount.
Florida expects all motor vehicle operators to drive carefully and to obey all driving laws. This includes recognizing and adapting to road conditions, such as the grade of the road or weather conditions that may impact visibility. Failing to operate your vehicle in a safe manner for the road conditions can result in a hefty fine, ranging from $160 up to $500. When careless driving results in an accident or injury, it is often combined with other citations that carry their own fines and penalties.
Whereas careless driving reflects a failure to respond appropriately to a driving situation, reckless driving represents intentionally disregarding the safety of others. Examples of reckless driving include swerving or weaving between lanes (when not used as a defensive driving maneuver), driving on areas other than the designated roadway, such as medians or sidewalks, and speeding in excess of 30 mph over the posted speed limit.
Because the risk to others is significant when reckless driving occurs, the penalties are stiff. Even a first offense can incur a fine between $25 and $500, and up to 90 days in jail. Injuries, property damage, and additional offenses can increase the penalties significantly.
Preparation is important to help you stay safe on Florida roads. One of the most effective safety strategies is to complete a Florida Defensive Driving course. Don’t wait until after you have a wreck to take your safety seriously.