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Florida New Resident Guide

Welcome to Florida! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Florida. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • When you become a resident of Florida you have 10 days, after starting employment or enrolling a child in public school, to register your vehicle. You must also update your license within 10 days after any change to your mailing address (Driver Handbook).
  • Anyone wishing to obtain a Florida driver's license that holds a valid photo license issued by another state, the district of Columbia or U.S. Territory must successfully pass a hearing and vision test (Florida Driver's Handbook).


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 15 years old;
  • Must pass written test;
  • Must pass vision and hearing tests.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • You may only drive during daylight hours during the first three months and until 10 p.m. thereafter, always with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat.

Intermediate License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years old;
  • Must have held a learner's license for at least one year without any traffic convictions;
  • Must have completed 50 hours of behind the wheel training, 10 of which must be at night;
  • Must pass behind the wheel exam.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • 16 years old - only drive between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat, or you are traveling to or from work.
  • 17 years old - only drive between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat, or you are traveling to or from work.

Unrestricted License

At 18, teens are eligible for an unrestricted license.



Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



6 Point Violations

  • Speeding resulting in a crash.
  • Leaving the scene of a crash resulting in property damage of more than $50.

4 Point Violations

  • Speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit.
  • Moving violation resulting in a crash.
  • Failing to stop at a traffic signal (effective October 1, 2005).
  • Passing a stopped school bus.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Violation of a traffic control sign/device.

3 Point Violations

  • Speeding 15 mph or less over the speed limit.
  • Moving violation (includes driving during restricted hours and parking on a highway outside the limits of a municipality).
  • Improper lane change.
  • Open container as an operator.
  • Child restraint violation.
  • Littering.

How Long Points Remain on License

Sanctions are based on specific number of points within a 12 month, 24 month, or a 36 month period.

  • 12 points accumulated in 12 months will result in a 30 day suspension of your driving privilege.
  • 18 points accumulated in 18 months (including points from a 12 point suspension) will result in a 3-month suspension of your driving privilege.
  • 24 points accumulated in 36 months (including points from a 12 point and / or 18 point suspension) will result in a one-year suspension of your driving privilege.


Insurance Requirements



The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage.

Financial Responsibility Law minimum coverage:

  • $10,000 Bodily Injury Liability (to one person).
  • $20,000 Bodily Injury Liability (to multiple persons).
  • $10,000 Property Damage Liability.
  • $30,000 Combined single limits.

No Fault Law requires owners of motor vehicles with 4 or more wheels (excluding taxis and limos), that have been in the state for at least 90 days of the past 365 to have the following coverage.

  • $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
  • $10,000 Property Damage Liability.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or within 300 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • (Low beam or high beam) between the hours of sunset and sunrise;
  • During any rain, smoke or fog.
  • You are permitted to intermittently flash your headlights at an oncoming vehicle.
  • You may blink your headlights to signal your intention to pass a vehicle traveling ahead of you.


Implied Consent Laws



Criminal

A subsequent refusal is punishable as a first degree misdemeanor, which carries a jail term of up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Administrative

  • First Refusal - Suspension for 1 year (90 days mandatory. A hardship license is available after this mandatory period.)
  • Subsequent Refusals - Suspension for 18 months (Mandatory).

Additional Information

Under FL law, an implied consent law violator is required to complete a driver-training course.



DUI Penalties



DUI

First Conviction (Misdemeanor)

  • Up to 6 months imprisonment;
  • $500 - $1,000 fine;
  • Mandatory probation up to 1 year;
  • 50 hours community service or $10 fine for each hour otherwise required, mandatory for first offenders;
  • 180 day - 1 year license revocation.

Second Conviction Within 5 years (Misdemeanor)

  • 10 days - 9 months imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $2,000 fine;
  • Not less than 5 year license revocation;
  • Ignition interlock at least 1 year.

Third Offense (within 10 years = 3rd degree felony)

  • 30 days - 5 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $5,000 fine;
  • Not less than 10 year license revocation;
  • Ignition interlock at least 2 years if driver qualifies for a permanent or restricted license.

Third Conviction (outside of 10 years = misdemeanor)

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • $2,000 - $5,000;
  • Not less than 10 year license revocation;
  • Ignition interlock at least 2 years if driver qualifies for a permanent or restricted license.

Fourth or Subsequent Conviction (3rd degree felony)

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment;
  • At least $2,000 fine;
  • Permanent license revocation.

DUI - Property Damage/Personal Injury (1st degree misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • Up to $1,000 fine.

DUI - Serious Bodily Injury (3rd degree felony)

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $5,000 fine.

High BAC - .15 or greater

First Conviction

  • Up to 9 months imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $1,200.

Second Conviction

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • $2,000 - $4,000.

Third or Subsequent Conviction

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • At least $4,000 fine.

Child Endangerment (Driving with a Passenger Under 18)

First Conviction

  • Up to 9 months imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $1,200 fine.

Second Conviction

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • $2,000 - $4,000.

Third or Subsequent Conviction

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • At least $4,000 fine.

Alcohol Education and Treatment

A substance abuse course and alcohol treatment program is required for a defendant convicted of any DWI offense.



Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $125 fine/3 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $158/no points.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to two times the original fine.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of indicating that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the highway.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • The law requires all pedestrians and vehicles, except emergency vehicles, to yield right-of-way to the procession.
  • All vehicles in a funeral procession must have their headlights lit, and the lead vehicle must have a flashing amber light or be a law enforcement vehicle.
  • If the lead vehicle enters an intersection legally, the other vehicles may follow it regardless of a changing traffic signal, stop sign, or yield sign provided they exercise due care to prevent collisions.
  • Other drivers are prohibited from driving between vehicles in the procession, if their headlights are on, unless directed by a police officer.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, and you are moving in the opposite direction of the bus. Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $100 fine for a first violation.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



A 3-foot minimum passing distance is required.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • The examination for a motorcycle license endorsement tests the applicant's knowledge of the operation of a motorcycle and of any traffic laws specifically relating to motorcycles. Examination also includes an actual demonstration of the applicant's ability to exercise ordinary, and reasonable control, in the operation of a motorcycle.
  • Every 1st-time applicant for licensure to operate a motorcycle who is under 21 years of age must provide proof of completion of a motorcycle safety course.

Protective Gear

  • A person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear unless the operator is 21 years of age or older and is covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.
  • A person may not operate a motorcycle unless the person is wearing an eye-protective device over his or her eyes of a type approved by the DMV.

Headlights

  • Any person who operates a motorcycle on the public streets shall, while so engaged, have the headlight or headlights of the motorcycle turned on.

Sharing the Road

  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.
  • Lane splitting is not authorized.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn or blinking its headlamps if at night;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 70 mph on limited access highways.
  • 55 mph in all locations except as noted.
  • 65 mph on a highway outside an urban area of 5,000 or more persons and which has four lanes divided by a median strip.
  • 30 mph in business and residence districts.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 6 years and older in the front seat, and occupants 6 - 17 years in all seats, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $30.

Child Seats

  • Children 3 years and younger must be in a child seat.
  • Children 4 - 5 years must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $60.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle;
    • Wrecker.
  • When driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency, vacate the lane closest to the vehicle.
  • When driving on a two-lane road or when passing would be unsafe, slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater; or travel at 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • Provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or to any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Notify authorities immediately:
    • If none of the other people involved in the accident are in a condition to receive the information you are required to give them, and no police officer is present, you must report the crash to the nearest police department as soon as you have stopped and provided assistance.
    • If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.
  • You must make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or to have it moved so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic more than necessary.
  • Unattended vehicle or property.
    • If you have collided with an unattended vehicle or other property that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address and the vehicle registration number.
    • If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information.
    • You must also report the accident to the authorities.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 10 days after the accident, unless the accident was investigated by a law enforcement officer.
  • If the driver is physically incapable of making the written report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is capable of making a report must do so. If there was no other occupant or they are not capable of making a report, the owner of the vehicle involved in the crash shall make the report within 10 days.


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