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Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Florida Traffic Laws Go Into Effect On October 1st

The explosion of aggressive driving on Florida's highways has gotten the attention of the Florida legislature and they took action during the 2009 legislative session in an attempt to change driver attitudes. On October 1st, several laws went into effect that will impact Floridians who choose to drive aggressively. Depending on the offense, the new laws are designed to increase the expense of certain aggressive driving offenses and to educate drivers with the goal of changing their driving behaviors.

Aggressive driving will cost more

Florida statute 318.18(5) (c) increases fines by an additional $65 for drivers who pass a stopped school bus, are convicted of reckless driving, or participate in racing on any Florida road. The additional $65 is a civil penalty and the money will go to fund hospital trauma centers throughout the state.

Three Strikes

Florida statute 322.0261 (1) requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to screen crash reports for:

(a) A crash involving death or a bodily injury requiring transport to a medical facility;

(b) A second crash by the same operator within the previous 2-year period involving property damage in an apparent amount of at least $500; or

(c) A third crash by the same operator within 36 months after the first crash.

Those drivers convicted of either (a) or (b) above will have to attend a department approved driver improvement course within 90 days after receiving notification from the department or face suspension of their license.

A driver convicted of (c), a third crash within a 36 month period, must attend a driver improvement course that includes a behind-the-wheel portion and must successfully pass a behind-the-wheel exam in order to keep their driving privileges. This course must be completed within 90 days after receiving notification from the department.

Mandatory Driving School

Florida statute 322.0261 (1) also requires drivers to attend a department approved driver improvement school of they are convicted of any of the following offenses:

FS 316.074(1) or 316.075(1)(c)1 Running a stop sign or a red light.

FS 316.172 Failing to stop for a stopped school bus while its stop lights are flashing.

FS 316.191 Racing on the highways.

FS 316.192 Reckless driving

Drivers will want to be aware of these new statutes and take care; the State is cracking down on aggressive drivers. Drivers might also want to take a good hard look at their driving behaviors and, if they sometimes engage in any of these traffic offenses, may want to consider attending a traffic school voluntarily to learn ways to modify their driving behavior before they face the increased fines, increased insurance rates and mandatory schools. It would be a lot cheaper. A good question for a driver to ask of themselves is; is the time you save worth the risk?

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