561.671.5995 | 954.272.6187 | www.matthewkoneckypa.com 110 SE 6th Street, Suite 1700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 4440 PGA Blvd., Suite 204 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 You Can Now Be Fined for Texting While Driving & Other Consequences of Distracted Driving
O n Jan. 1, 2020, several new laws went into full effect in Florida. One of those laws is the “texting while driving” law. The law itself dates back to Jan. 1, 2019, but law enforcement agencies (and by extension, motorists) were given a grace period of one year. During 2019, law enforcement officers could only issue a warning to motorists. Now, that’s changed.
As a result, other citations or charges can unfold, especially if you have contraband present in your vehicle. A few decades ago, before seatbelt laws, you could drive without a seatbelt and you wouldn’t get pulled over. When seatbelt laws were introduced, more people started getting pulled over, which led to arrests for things that had nothing to do with seatbelts. The same thing will happen with the new texting law.
Texting while driving is now a primary offense. Officers can stop motorists on the suspicion of texting while driving
Overall, I think a texting while driving law is good to have on the books. Statistics have shown that texting while driving is dangerous and
and issue a citation. Florida law now also bans “handheld wireless communication devices” in school crossings, school zones, and construction zones. Hands-free devices, such as in-car Bluetooth, can still be used legally.
distracted driving can be more lethal than drunk driving. When people are inebriated, it impacts their ability to focus on driving, slowing their reaction time, blurring their vision, and negatively influencing their ability to make quick decisions.
The first texting while driving offense is punishable with a $30 fine (plus any applicable court fees). The second offense comes with a $60 fine, court fees, and other possible costs — on top of three points on your driver’s license. For those cited in a school or construction zone, they will see additional points added to their driver’s license. First-time offenders can avoid fines, however. According to the law, after citation, they may buy a hands-free Bluetooth device (such as an earpiece). They then must show proof of purchase of the device and complete a driver safety education course through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. After that, they may be off the hook for any fines or points. This, of course, is how the law looks on paper. In reality, it can be very different for drivers. The fine may be a civil citation, but it can have criminal implications, and it’s one more law that allows a police officer to initiate a stop. If you are driving and looking at your phone, you are inviting an officer to pull you over.
Distracted driving works in a similar way. If your attention isn’t on the road and your surroundings, you can’t react. When you’re looking down instead of out, you can’t make quick adjustments or decisions, and this can, and often does, lead to fender benders and wrecks — sometimes fatal ones. Texting while driving comes with other consequences as well. If you pursue a personal injury case following a car accident, for example, you may be asked for a record of your calls and texts. If you were on your phone when the accident occurred, you could be found at fault, even if the call or text didn’t have anything to do with the accident. It comes down to this: Don’t text while driving. The consequences are never worth it. It’s not worth the fine, wreck, or extra attention to you and your vehicle regardless of your reason for texting. Stay safe and keep your eyes on the road!
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Artful Parenting When a teenager is involved in sports, it’s easy to show support for their passion. You take them to practice, go to their games, celebrate their victories, and help them learn from their losses. But what if your teen is more into arts than athletics? Without a literal sideline to cheer from, helping your child grow and develop in fields like writing, painting, and photography can feel — well, abstract. But make no mistake, parents can show concrete support in a few ways to help their budding artist grow and excel in the arts. Stars to Strive For
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR TEEN’S ARTISTIC PASSIONS
teens may not be willing to share something that personal. Still, reminding them you’re genuinely interested in their work can help them stick with their passion. Indirect gestures like buying them quality art supplies can also show them you value their craft. The Big Leagues Sure, there’s no varsity watercolor portrait team, but student artists can strive for important milestones. School clubs like student newspapers can provide a semiprofessional outlet for young artists, and there are myriad creative outlets outside the classroom as well. Community galleries, youth anthologies, coffee shop open mics — these are all amazing opportunities for your teen to take their work to the next level.
Just as many young athletes have star players they look up to and try to emulate on the field, aspiring artists can look to those making waves in their artistic fields today. Often, school courses focus on “the classics,” which can just feel like homework to an aspiring artist. This is where you can help. Introduce the work of contemporary artists to your teen, or better yet, give your teen opportunities to discover them on their own. Trips to museums and libraries can be just as impactful on growing artists as going to a ball game. No. 1 Fan You may not have to drive your high schooler to writing practice, but you can still give them the tools and support they need to hone their passion. The most obvious way is by asking to see their writing or art, but keep in mind many
Just as most teen athletes won’t be professional players, you don’t have to expect your artist to be the next Ursula K. Le Guin or Banksy. Whatever their interests are, helping your child explore their passions and enjoy a discipline will leave them with skills and memories they’ll draw upon the rest of their life.
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WOULD YOU LET YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY TRACK YOU?
Auto Insurers Offer Discounts to Monitor Your Driving
by LA’s mayor, Eric Garcetti. Whoever was dubbed Safest Driver in Los Angeles also received a $20,000 prize.
Would you let your auto insurance company monitor your daily driving? In 2019, The New York Times reported on the “safest driver in Los Angeles.” The story followed Deborra Sarei, an LA resident who took part in an experiment and contest sponsored by USAA and the city of Los Angeles. The goal was to promote safer driving. How do you determine who is the safest driver? Sarei and thousands of other participants had to download an app onto their smartphone. The app tracked their driving, including speed, braking, acceleration, and cornering. The app also tracked distractions related to the phone like texting and calling.
USAA currently offers discounts to policyholders who sign up for the mobile tracking app and use it according to USAA’s terms of service. Policyholders can see up to 20% discounts on their premium. The better the driver, the better the discount. Other auto insurance companies offer similar discounts in exchange for tracking data. They say the tracking is meant to promote safer driving and users will not be penalized with higher premiums if they drive poorly. They just won’t receive a discount on their policy. Some states prohibit insurers from offering policies based on driving habits, but in others, like California, there is talk of change. Some regulators want to make it easier for insurers to charge based on driving habits. As it stands, these types of programs are opt-in only, so you don’t have to worry about being tracked by your insurer. Are you willing to share your driving habits with your insurer? There are many questions about how the data might be used, both by the insurer and law enforcement, should they get the data. Ultimately, it comes down to your willingness to trade privacy for small discounts on your premiums.
Anytime Sarei was driving, the app had to be active. She says her driving habits changed — she did everything by the book and self-monitored her driving behavior far more than she did before being tracked.
Sarei was part of a group of 11,500 other drivers who all opted to share their location and tracking data with USAA’s mobile app. The experiment was part of a contest sponsored by the insurer and promoted
RATATOUILLE Cooking With Ashley
Inspired by Bon Appétit
Rich with fresh, colorful ingredients, ratatouille is a French dish that has experienced a revolution of its own in recent years. Enjoy this vegan-friendly spin on an old-world classic.
1 eggplant, peeled and chopped 1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch- thick rounds
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• • •
• • •
2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced 2 pints cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
5 sprigs thyme
1. Heat oven to 400 F. 2. In a colander, toss eggplant, zucchini, and salt. Let sit for 30 minutes and pat dry. 3. In an ovenproof pot, heat 1/2 cup olive oil. Add half of eggplant mixture, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from pot. 4. Tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. 5. In the same pot, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and cook onion, pepper, garlic, and thyme for 8–10 minutes. 6. Add half the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. 7. Stir in original eggplant and zucchini mixture and top with remaining tomatoes. Do not stir. 8. Transfer pot to oven and bake mixture for 15–20 minutes. 9. Remove pot from oven and remove thyme bundle before serving.
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Texting While Driving Becomes a Primary Offense page 2 page 2 page 3 page 3 page 4 INSIDE 561.671.5995 | 954.272.6187 www.matthewkoneckypa.com 4440 PGA Blvd., Suite 204 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 Supporting Your Teen’s Art Hear From Our Clients Would You Trade Privacy for Lower Auto Insurance Premiums? Ratatouille Stay Stateside With These Little- Known St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations page 1
Celebrate With These Little-Known Festivities There’s no place quite like Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. What was once a purely religious holiday to honor the legend of St. Patrick chasing all the snakes out of the country has turned into a global celebration. But if a trip to Ireland isn’t in the budget, check out these three little-known stateside destinations that are just as festive.
Parade will travel 98 feet once again this year. Don’t assume the turnout isn’t robust just because the distance is staggeringly low. The parade lasts for hours, drawing thousands of people to watch celebrities, musicians, bands, floats, and Miss Arkansas glide by. The event also features a Blarney stone kissing contest and a parade king and queen. A Little Luck in America’s Heartland O’Neill, Nebraska, is home to the world’s largest shamrock and more unique St. Patrick’s Day traditions. This Irish community doubles down on its heritage every March with a traditional parade, music, and Irish dancing. But the town also hosts a popular dodgeball tournament and donkey basketball. What could be better than pummeling your opponents in dodgeball and outpacing the competition while riding a donkey in the school gymnasium? Perhaps enjoying a pint or two with your teammates afterward. And O’Neill is just the spot to do it. Ohio’s Little Piece of Ireland You may not be able to fly to Ireland, but you can visit a little piece of it right in the U.S. Head to Dublin, Ohio, this St. Patrick’s Day for a traditional celebration sure to put a wee bit o’ pep in your step. Partake in a traditional Irish breakfast or enjoy a parade complete with bagpipers and Irish dancers. Boasting one of the largest celebrations in the U.S., Dublin is an affordable alternative for those looking to celebrate the Irish way.
Short and Sweet in Arkansas Thanks to the clever thinking of some Irish friends meeting for a pint at a bar on one of the shortest streets in the world, Bridge Street in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the First Ever 17th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day
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