Is It Illegal To Drive With Headphones In Florida?
In a nutshell, yes, it is illegal to drive with headphones in Florida. The minimum fine for violating this state law is $150.
However, when using a cell phone, it is legal to use one AirPod, earbud, or headphone per Florida Statute 316.304(d).
As a result of distracted driving, such as texting, eating, and communicating on social media, there were 350 fatalities and 2,726 serious bodily injuries in 2021.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle reports the following three types of driver distractions:
- Visual-Taking your eyes off the road
- Manual-Taking your hand off the wheel
- Cognitive-Thinking about anything other than driving
We understand you may enjoy listening to music, podcasts and talking on hands-free headsets with your cell phones while driving.
But there is a right way to help prevent car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents.
So we’ve put together this article outlining the law and exceptions to help you avoid seeing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror.
Have you been told you can’t drive because of your hearing loss?
That’s not true! You can still be a licensed driver with a hearing aid. The Florida Statute 316.304 reads:
(1) No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of defective human hearing.
Additionally, if you are riding a bicycle, you must adhere to the same laws as those behind the wheel. As a bicyclist, you can wear a hearing aid and still get to your destination without worrying about getting a traffic violation.
If you’re still unsure, contact our office, and we will be happy to answer your questions
Headsets in Motorcycle Helmets
Have you ever cruised the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in your car only to hear a motorcycle passing by with blazing music? The sounds of the music are from external speakers. But headsets in motorcycle helmets are allowed.
The motorcycle helmet speakers cannot have direct contact with the cyclist’s ears, as written in Florida Statute 316.304 below:
(b) Any applicant for a license to operate a motorcycle while taking the examination required by s. 322.12(5).
(c) Any person operating a motorcycle who is using a headset that is installed in a helmet and worn so as to prevent the speakers from making direct contact with the user’s ears so that the user can hear surrounding sounds.
The importance of wearing a helmet when riding motorcycles cannot be understated. It is recommended that you wear one which has been approved by the Department Of Transportation (DOT).
A motorcycle helmet with speakers must be DOT compliant. These helmets will have an identifying DOT sticker with both the manufacturer’s name and model number!
Motorcycles are fun and can leave you vulnerable to distracted drivers. Your safety is very important. You are not immune from distracted driving accidents.
If you are a motorcyclist read our article, “What are the Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents” to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself.
Law Enforcement Officers
The City of Tampa has over 1,000 authorized and sworn law enforcement personnel keeping our community safe. As local police enforce the Florida laws, to properly do their job, ear protection devices are allowed as stated in Florida Statute 316.304(a):
(a) Any law enforcement officer equipped with any communication device necessary in performing his or her assigned duties or to any emergency vehicle operator equipped with any ear protection device.
As it is illegal to drive with headphones, law enforcement is the exception. Despite the listening devices, the local police officers can still drive safely without being distracted by audio.
What About Wearing Just One AirPod, Earbuds or Headphone While Driving in Florida?
As stated above, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles describes distracted driving as visual, manual, and cognitive.
It is dangerous to take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the task of driving.
Only for cellular phone use, one AirPod, earbud, or headphone is an exception per Florida Statute 316.304(d):
“Any person using a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear.”
It’s still a good idea to limit your cell phone use while behind the wheel. Being able to focus on the road guarantees you may hear or see an emergency vehicle approaching.
A horn honking to warn you of a potential auto accident won’t be missed. Not adhering to traffic laws often creates situations that involve emergency phone calls and emergency vehicles.
If you are a bicyclist, wearing headphones while riding a bike is permitted on roads designated for cyclists only.
However, one AirPod or headset with sound in one ear while using a cell phone is mandatory while riding a bike.
One ear must be available to hear pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Prevention of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents is the goal of this Florida law.
To help you prevent distracted driving, read our article, “How to Avoid Driving While Distracted”.
Punishments for Violating This Law
In recent years, there has been a troubling trend of drivers becoming increasingly distracted behind the wheel. For this reason, if you are caught with headphones while driving, a local law enforcement officer will give you a ticket.
Police officers are permitted under Florida law and statute 316.304 to give a violation, as stated below:
(4) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
If you are distracted by your headset and fail to dedicate 100 percent of your attention to the road, you could be held financially responsible for any injuries or damage caused by an accident.
In Tampa Bay, Florida, wearing earbuds or a headset may cause a motor vehicle accident, resulting in thousands of dollars in medical bills and property damage.
Contact the Legal Experts at Burnett Law
Now that we’ve answered, “Is it illegal to drive with headphones in Florida?”, do you need a team of legal experts to help you with your personal injury claim?
You may be entitled to damages and more. Let us take the burden of dealing with insurance companies and the legal process off your shoulders.
Call us today for a free consultation!