The Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. Police officers have the right to detain you or to search you only when the situation meets certain legal criteria.
There are different rules for different scenarios, and police officers monitoring traffic have slightly more leeway than police officers in other situations that are less safety-critical. They often have to make a snap judgment about whether to pull someone over and issue a citation or let them go on with their day.
Generally, an officer needs probable cause of a primary traffic offense to pull someone over. Is texting while driving enough of a reason to conduct a traffic stop?
Yes, texting at the wheel is a primary offense in Florida
Every state has different rules, and some states don’t even have a law against texting while driving yet. Florida’s law is relatively strict because it makes texting a primary offense.
In some other states, a police officer can write a ticket for texting while driving, but they need another reason to pull a driver over. They could cite someone for texting in addition to speeding or not using their turn signal but would not be able to stop the vehicle just because someone had a phone in their hands.
In Florida, police officers can conduct a traffic stop even if the only thing they suspect a person has done is text while driving. The driver could face a citation and a fine. Drivers cited for distracted driving while in control of a commercial vehicle could potentially lose eligibility for their commercial license.
Avoiding the worst consequences of a traffic citation may require that you defend against it instead of just paying it.