Florida

15 Things You Should Know About Florida Driving Laws

Let’s face it: As Floridians, we’re known for being somewhat off-beat and quirky. Florida Man didn’t become the internet meme staple that it is out of nowhere. Whether it’s us or the people flooding in to enjoy our sunshine and theme parks, people tend to leave their senses at the Florida-Georgia line.

One place where no one should leave their good sense behind is on the roads. How much do you know about Florida driving laws? If the answer is, “not much” or “just enough to pass my driving test”, never fear. We have here a list of 15 things that you should know while driving down the Florida highways.

  1. You Can and Will Have Tolls Sent to Collections

This one often catches tourists by surprise. Most Floridians know to have their tolls ready when driving on a toll road, whether they’re cash or card. If you fail to pay a toll while you’re driving, you can and will have that amount sent to a collections agency. Needless to say, wrecking your credit score over an unpaid toll of less than $5 isn’t worth it.

Have the money ready, or if you don’t, pay it promptly.

  1. Click it or Ticket

As with many states, Florida driving laws prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle without a seatbelt. Unless the vehicle typically doesn’t have seatbelts or there’s some medical reason preventing you from wearing one. You can get pulled over for driving without a seatbelt on, so buckle up, for your safety and your wallet.

  1. Don’t Drink and Drive

DUI is as illegal in Florida as it is in other states. If you get caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher, you will receive a DUI charge. If there’s a minor in the car, you may get fined up to $4000. Your license could get revoked for anywhere from six months to a year.

If your BAC was above .15, that will get you an Aggravated DUI charge, and an Ignition Interlock Device on your car. It’s not worth the risk.

  1. Florida Law: Driving Without Insurance Is Illegal

Florida may have less stringent requirements as far as the mandatory minimum amounts of coverage than most states. However, driving without insurance in Florida is illegal, and can get your license suspended for up to 3 years if you can’t provide proof of insurance coverage in time. Finding cheap car insurance is easier than ever these days, so don’t go without it.

  1. Teen Permits and Licenses Are Limited

Learner’s Permits and teen driving licenses are limited in most states. However, Florida driving permit laws are more restrictive than most. Permit holders cannot drive without someone 21 or older in the car. Licensed drivers who are underage won’t be able to drive during late-night hours (that is, from 12 am-6 am) unless they’re coming home from work or have someone over 21 in the car with them.

  1. Headlights Must Be Turned On

In Florida, the weather changes on a dime. One moment, it’s sunny, the next, it’s pouring down rain. When it’s rainy, foggy, or between dusk and dawn, you must drive with your headlights on. This is for your safety and the safety of the drivers around you.

Imagine if someone came up next to you in a black car in the dead of night! You’d never see them coming in time. Headlights help you see other drivers, and help them see you in inclement conditions. So, turn them on.

  1. Texting and Driving Will Get You Pulled Over

The Florida texting and driving law falls in line with many other such laws in other states. If you get caught texting while behind the wheel of a vehicle, you will get pulled over and ticketed. Even if you’re using the device to call someone, if you’re in a school or work zone, you can still get cited and fined.

Focus on using hands-free functions in your vehicle where possible. Otherwise, just set the phone down and address the call or text later. It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others.

  1. International Drivers Need International Permits

Up until 2013, Florida allowed our international visitors to drive around with their home licenses. Since 2013, however, international drivers have needed an international driving permit to drive on Florida roads. Part of the reason for this change was to make it simpler for insurance to handle claims involving foreign drivers.

  1. Move Over, Florida

Moving over or coming to a stop for emergency vehicles is seen as a matter of etiquette in other states. In Florida, it’s the law. Whenever emergency or utility workers are present or parked on the roads, you must pull over to the farthest lane to pass them. Or, if for some reason you can’t move over, you need to slow to 20MPH below the posted speed limit. Any failure to do so will result in serious fines.

  1. Obey the Road Signs

This should seem like a no-brainer, but Florida driving laws require drivers to heed the signs present on the road. If a sign states that you can’t turn on red, don’t do it. If you see a sign posting the speed limit, you’d best not get caught going above that. Even when other laws state that the action should be fine, road signs supersede their authority.

Obey the signs on the road, or you put your fellow drivers at risk. Worse, you could have to re-attend driving school if continued violations get your license suspended.

  1. If There’s No Sign, Max Speed Is 55MPH

When it comes to speed limits, Florida still follows the old state-wide rule of 55MPH unless otherwise posted. If you see a sign for 70MPH as the speed limit, feel free to go at that speed to your heart’s content. However, you should never assume that the speed limit is 70MPH on the interstate.

If you haven’t seen a sign to indicate the speed limit, 55MPH should be your go-to speed. Once you see another sign, you can adjust accordingly. That said…

  1. Mind the Speed Traps

Florida is one of the absolute worst states for speed traps. A speed trap is, in essence, a place where the speed limit is lower than circumstances should require along a stretch of road with extremely active and excessive police enforcement. Waldo, Florida was one of the most infamous speed traps in the nation until recently.

Even if the area isn’t a known speed trap, speed limits can change rapidly between areas. Many a driver has been caught unawares by a sudden shift from highway speeds to residential, leading to massive fines and excessive driver’s license points. Maintain situational awareness so you don’t miss a crucial sign and get stuck in one of these infamous locations.

  1. No Open Containers in the Car

Florida, like many other states, has laws to prohibit the presence of open liquor containers in the vehicle. Even if you, as the driver, aren’t partaking, your friends shouldn’t crack open cold ones in the back seat either. Whether you’re drinking or not, open alcoholic beverage containers in the car are against the law.

You don’t want to get ticketed and cited for your friends having a good time in the back seat. Wait to open the booze until you get home safely.

  1. Red Lights Mean Coming to a Full Stop

This might seem like it should be common sense. However, as many people involved in car accidents will tell you, people still act confused about the meaning of the red light in front of them. When a light turns red, you are expected to come to a full and complete stop before the white line of the intersection.

Not a rolling stop. Not jetting across the intersection in hopes of making it before cross-traffic starts flowing. A full and complete stop. Yes, even if you’re turning right. The same guideline also applies to Stop signs.

  1. U-Turns are A-OK If Done Safely

Many states have laws on the books preventing U-turns on the roads. Florida is not one of those. In the state of Florida, as long as there isn’t a sign to indicate that you shouldn’t conduct a U-turn, you can U-turn to your heart’s content. However, before you start your turn, you need to ensure that you won’t run afoul of any oncoming traffic, as they still have the right of way.

Want to Know More About Florida Driving Laws?

Understanding Florida driving laws, in most cases, is about following your common sense. Don’t drive drunk, without a seatbelt, without insurance, or without a license. Obey the posted speed limits and road signs. Follow those instructions, and you’re golden.

If you want a more detailed look at Florida driving laws or a deeper dive into the punishments you might face for breaking them, check out our blog. We update each day with more Florida-centered news and helpful how-tos!

 

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