Little Known Traffic Laws - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

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Little Known Traffic Laws

QUESTION: There are a lot of traffic laws and regulations, and yet I understand that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Can you explain some laws that may not be commonly known?

ANSWER: I agree with you, there are a lot of traffic laws and unless you're a police officer, it's unlikely you know them all. I'm an attorney and I'd admit that I don't even know all the traffic laws by memory. Here are a few that might not be as well know, or the details might not be well known:

  • Any person who strikes an unattended vehicle which results in any damage to that car must either locate the owner of the unattended vehicle in order to tell him of the incident or must leave his written name and address and thereafter notify the nearest police officer of the accident. Failure to follow these rules constitutes a second degree misdemeanor, F.S. 316.063.
  • A person driving under the "normal speed of traffic" must drive in the far right hand lane, except when overtaking or passing a car traveling in the same direction or when preparing to make a left hand turn. Therefore, the driver of a car obeying the speed limit, but going slower than the flow of traffic which fails to pull into the far right lane can be given a ticket for obstructing traffic under this law, F.S. 316.081(2).
  • All cars must yield the right-of-way to public busses attempting to re-enter the through lanes of traffic from a designated bus stop, F.S. 316.0815
  • A car which is pulling out from an alley, building, private road or driveway must stop before crossing a sidewalk, or crosswalk area for pedestrians and bicycles before attempting to pull out onto the roadway, F;S. 316.125 and 316.130. This law is frequently violated by driver's who look to yield for oncoming trucks and automobiles but fail to look out and stop for pedestrians and those on bicycles or roller blades who may be crossing from either direction in the area of a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Remember, the pedestrian has the right-of-way.
  • We all know that we must stop for school buses when their signal is displayed. Some confusion arises when the bus is traveling on a divided highway. In this instance, if the opposite lane of travel is divided by an open space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or a raised barrier does not have to stop for a school bus traveling in the opposite direction, F.S. 316.172 Where the highway consists of multiple lanes of travel in each direction, but is divided only by a double yellow line, traffic traveling in each direction must stop for a school bus which is loading and unloading students so long as it's signal is displayed. I often see this rule violated on roads of six lanes or more.
  • If a police officer has "reasonable cause" to believe that the driver of an automobile is under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances or controlled substances and the driver has been placed under arrest, he may request that the driver submit to a breath, blood or urine test (or all three) to determine the presence of such drugs or alcohol. If the offending driver is unconscious or unable to respond to a request for testing, the test may be administered without his actual consent because the law says that consent is deemed given when one accepts a driver's license.
    This law has been held not to violate the fifth amendment privilege against self incrimination. If a person refuses to submit to any of these tests, his license will be suspended for one year for the first defense and eighteen months for the second offense. In any criminal prosecution for driving under the influence, the driver's refusal to submit to these tests can be introduced into evidence against him, F.S.316.1932
  • If you are suspected of drunk driving, but the police officer does not ask that a blood, urine or breath test be administered, you have the right to request that such a test be administered in an attempt to prove your innocense. Likewise, if the police do elect to administer one of these tests, you may request that a second such test be administered by a qualified person in order to verify or refute the accuracy of the testing administered by the police, FS 316.1932.
  • If an accident occurs which results in death or serious injury, and the investigating officer has probable cause to believe that one of the drivers was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other chemical substance, the police officer may demand that the driver submit to a blood test, and if refused, reasonable force can even be used in order to obtain a blood sample, FS 316.1933.
  • If a police officer attempts to stop the driver of a car for a simple traffic violation, and the driver of the car, instead of stopping, attempts to flee in an attempt to escape receiving a ticket, such actions constitute a second degree misdemeanor. Therefore, by trying to flee from a police officer in order to avoid something like a speeding ticket, the driver, if caught, may very well be charged with a criminal offense, in addition to receiving a traffic ticket, FS 316.1935. If the police officer is driving a marked car, and uses his siren and lights while chasing the driver, where the driver still refuses to stop, he can now be charged with a third degree felony. If the fleeing driver's actions are such that he endangers people or property while fleeing, the charges can be increased to a second degree felony.
  • It is illegal for a driver or a passenger to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage while operating or riding in an automobile, whether or not the drink is being consumed, FS 316.1936. There are exceptions to this law such as those riding in a bus, limousine or motorhome.
  • For those who have handicapped permits, you not only have the right to park in spaces reserved for the handicapped, but you have other rights, as well. For example, so long as the person issued the permit is driving or being transported in the car and the placard is displayed, you need not deposit any money in parking meters located on public streets or highways. There are some circumstances where a parking charge is allowed, such as when parking at convention center, sports center or cruise terminal. General parking on city streets, however, is free. In addition, on-street metered parking that restricts the time a car may remained parked in the same space may not prohibit parking by a vehicle displaying a handicapped permit for less than four hours, F.S. 316.1964.
  • It is illegal to stop and leave your car with the engine running, even if for only a brief period of time. FS 316.1975.
  • It is illegal to leave your car without also removing the keys from it. FS 316.1975 In addition, should leave your car with the keys in the ignition, you can be held civilly responsible should the thief be involved in an accident which causes injury or property damage.
  • A parent may not allow his child to remain unattended in a child seat attached to his bicycle, FS 316.2065.
  • Children less than 16 years old must wear bicycle helmets, 316.2065.
  • It is lawful to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, 316.2065, unless bicycles are specifically prohibited.
  • As a general rule, it is illegal to driver a golf cart on public roads and highways, FS 316.212, though some exceptions apply particularly for use of golf carts in a retirement community, FS 316.2125.
  • Children five years old and younger must be seated in an approved child safety seat, FS 316.613.
  • It is illegal to leave a child in an unattended automobile while the engine is running, FS 316.6135.
  • It is illegal to leave a child 6 years old and younger in an unattended automobile (even if the engine isn't running) for more than fifteen minutes, FS 316.6135. If a police officer sees an unattended child left in a car for more than fifteen minutes, he may attempt to remove the child from the car by whatever means reasonably necessary, and after leaving a notification on the car, the child will be placed in the hands of the Department of Children and Family Services.
  • It is illegal for the driver of a car to allow anyone younger than 18 years old to ride in the car without wearing a seatbelt or sitting in a child safety seat, FS 316.614.
  • Anyone seated in the front seat of a car, regardless of their age, must wear a seatbelt. Exemptions are provided for those who are delivering newspapers, people who have a doctor's certification stating that the use of a seatbelt is inappropriate or dangerous to them, those working in solid waste or recyclable collection services, under certain circumstances in a motorhome, and for the third person seated in a pickup truck which only has two seatbelts, FS 316.614.
  • Those who present proof of insurance to a police officer upon request who know that their insurance has been cancelled or not in force is guilty of a 1st degree misdemeanor.
  • Failure to attend a court hearing for a traffic ticket, pay a required fine, or appear for traffic school as ordered requires the clerk of court to notify the department of motor vehicles after which the department will send notice giving twenty days to rectify the situation after which the offending person's driver's license will be suspended, FS 316.15. 25. A persons drivers license can be suspended due to their failure to pay court ordered child support, FS 320.058.


FOR OUR YOUNGER DRIVERS, THE FOLLOWING

INFORMATION MAY BE OF INTEREST


  • For those 16 to 18 years old, in order to obtain a driver's license, their parent or legal guardian must certify that the minor has driven a car for at least 50 hours, at least 10 of which were at night, together with their parent in order to obtain an adequate amount of behind the wheel experience before being issued a regular driver's license.
  • Before being issued a standard license, the minor must first obtain a learner's permit and hod same for at least 12 months without obtaining any traffic tickets. IF any traffic tickets were issued, the minor must have attended driving school.
  • Identification cards, in the place of drivers licenses, are available to those who are 12 years of age and older.
  • Minors under 18 years of age who have been found guilty of certain drug, alcohol or tobacco offenses may be denied a standard driver's license or the state may delay the issuance of a license until certain conditions are met, FS 322.056.
  • Conviction of certain drug offenses even for those who are 18 and older may lead to the revocation or suspension of their driver's license, FS 322.055.
  • In order for a minor to obtain a driver's license, he or she must obtain the written consent of her mother, father or guardian unless the minor is emancipated by marriage, FS 322.09. If after giving their consent, the parents later change their mind, a letter can be written to the division which will cause the minors driver's license to be suspended, FS 322.10.
  • The parent who signs the consent for the minor to obtain a driver's license is jointly responsible with the minor for any accidents for which the minor is at fault, FS 322.09.
  • A minor may not obtain a driver's license unless he or she is enrolled in school or receiving home education and satisfy's attendance requirements; has already obtained a high school diploma or GED; is enrolled in a GED preparation course; is enrolled in other education programs approved by the school district; or has received an exemption or hardship waiver, FS 322.091. Any minor who already has a driver's license but fails to comply with these provisions is subject to having his or her license suspended.
  • It is illegal for a person to knowingly have possession of a forged driver's license, to sell or provide another person a falsified or altered license, or to obtain a driver's license under a false name or by making false statements. Those who engage in the popular business of changing their driver's license in order to pass as 18 or 21 years of age or who violate any of the provisions set forth herein can be charged with a third degree felony, FS 322.212.
  • It is illegal for a person under 21 years of age to drive a car with a blood alcohol level of .02 percent or higher, FS 322.2616. Consumption of just one beer could put a person over this limit.
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