Florida laws have some notable differences in comparison to consumer laws in the other 49 states. An article in the January 12 edition of the Tampa Bay Times outlines some of the odd laws that can lead to a perceived reputation of Florida consumer laws.
TEXTING AND DRIVING LAWS IN FLORIDA
Pretty much everyone knows you shouldn’t text and drive; it just doesn’t make sense. Your eyes and thoughts need to be on the road ahead of you and the other drivers around you. Billboards on Interstate 275 proclaim, “Better left unread than dead.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working to get more stringent laws in Florida. Several states have completely banned a mobile device while operating a moving vehicle and, while it is technically illegal to use a “wireless communications device” while driving, a police officer can’t “just” pull your vehicle over for that. To pull a vehicle off the road, there has to be another violation as the main reason. However, it may just be a matter of time before legislators strengthen Florida’s current laws, to the point of even adding points to a driver’s license if the actions of texting caused a crash.
Studies of those who have texted while driving have been conflicted as to whether roads are safer. Some research suggests that banning cell phones while driving reduces hospitalizations. Other research points to the fact that those states who do ban texting while driving makes drivers worse because they will continue to text but they hide their phones in their laps. This means, potentially, taking their eyes off the road for an even longer period of time. Before Florida enacts new legislation, lawmakers will no doubt look to find out what the outcomes of such legislation has been in other states.
FLORIDA LAWS ABOUT LAWN SPRINKLERS
According to Florida law, if you are watering your lawn in The Sunshine State, your automatic sprinkler must have a built-in “fail-safe” mechanism to turn the sprinkler off when sufficient moisture is detected. This measure is to help the state conserve water. It was in 2010 that a mandate went out for all systems to be upgraded to this type. If this law isn’t complied with, homeowners can face up to $250 in fines for over-watering.
CREDIT CARD FEES IN FLORIDA
Consumers: you’re getting a small break in Florida! Did you realize that the State of Florida does not allow retailers to charge a fee for using a credit card? Only 10 other states have this law. Prices on items can be higher due to the fees that the retailers are charged for allowing customers to pay with a credit card. The price of fuel at gas stations is not affected by this law when stations offer a lower price for cash purchases.
RESTAURANT LAWS IN FLORIDA
Other states across the country require restaurants to post a “food safety letter grade” relating to the inspection of their facilities. This is not a requirement in Florida. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants (DBPR) “uses a category system from the Federal Department of Agriculture’s 2009 Food Code.” This method, which is “science-based,” they believe better defines violation information. You can find out more about a restaurant’s inspections at the DBPR’s website.
If you have a question about consumer laws in St. Petersburg, Florida, or if you think a business is in violation of a Florida statute that has detrimentally affected you, speak with a personal injury attorney.