A Brief Look at Florida Traffic Laws for First-Time Drivers
Ah, the Sunshine State. When it’s not hurricane season, it’s a great place to visit (or retire), a place we normally associate with crisp beaches, clear ocean, and bobbing sailboats.
But with more than 270,000 miles worth of asphalt, Florida is indeed a roadway-heavy state. And with more than 4 million tickets issued per year, there’s a lot of incentive to drive cautiously. But like every state, there are some less well-known rules to follow.
“One of the most obscure, yet commonly violated is our window tinting restriction laws. Florida Stature 316.2953 allows only a certain percentage of light reduction,” says Andrew Martin Abreu, an attorney for Jordan Law in Florida. “Florida is a state where if you are reversing and cause an accident, you are presumed to be at fault, although you can rebut this. This means that you are liable by virtue of reversing, so be careful.”
There’s more you need to know! Here’s a quick list to get you started with Florida traffic laws.
- Buckle Up — Let’s start with one you should follow before you even leave the driveway: put on your seat belt. Everyone under the age 18 must wear a seat belt, but not if you’re an adult in the backseat. While it’s technically only the driver and front seat passenger who must legally wear a seat belt, everyone should strap in regardless. It will save your life.
- Child Restraint Requirements — The driver is legally responsible for buckling up children. If the child is 3 or younger, they must be secured in a federally approved child restraint seat. Children ages 4 to 5 may wear either a safety belt or be secured by a child restraint seat.
- Right on Red — This rule differs from state to state, but in Florida it’s legal to make a proper right-hand turn at a red light. However, make sure to make a full and complete stop at the intersection and check for cross traffic before proceeding.
- Red Means Stop — Speaking of red lights, don’t run them. One, it’s extremely dangerous. And two, Florida is notorious for its red light cameras at intersections, and it’s likely you’ll pay the price.
- Don’t Drink and Drive — This one’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s one drink or five, don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Same goes for prescription medication or other drugs, like marijuana. Florida has one of the toughest DUI penalties in the United States. DO NOT drive intoxicated.
“DUIs are an extremely serious crimes,” Abreu says. “So serious that the average case can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 in penalties imposed alone between probation, fines, classes, and interlocks, which are mandatory.”
- Watch Out For Emergency Vehicles — In 2002, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed the Move Over Act into law, requiring drivers to move over to the next lane or at least slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit whenever emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the interstate.
- Avoid Aggression — Road rage can kill. If someone cuts you off, slows you down or otherwise upset you, don’t take it personally. Don’t tailgate or gesture rudely at drivers who may be annoying you. Focus on the road.
- Don’t Leave Pets or People In Cars — It gets hot in Florida, so pay attention to that. In 2016, Florida passed a bill making it legal to break into a car to rescue a people or animals that have cruelly been left in the heat. If you don’t want a broken window or a stiff fine or worse, don’t leave a baby or a pet in the car.
- Double Trouble — Traffic penalties in Florida double in construction zones or school zones. If you’re pulled over doing more than 30 miles above the speed limit in one of these zones, the fine is $555.50.
- You Can Pay to Get around Easier — Like many states, Florida has a prepaid toll system that lets you get around much faster. To purchase a transponder or to learn more, go here.
If you have an emergency, you can dial *FHP on your phone and it will connect you directly with Florida Highway Patrol.