You know how it goes. You wake up one morning, walk out to your car, and notice a crack in your windshield. Where did that come from? A rock hit it? Something fell on it? Whatever the cause, you now have a broken windshield staring you in the face and probably a million questions running through your mind.
The biggest one likely being: Can I get a ticket for driving around with a broken windshield in Florida? The short answer is yes, you can. But don’t panic just yet. You should know some rules around cracked and broken windshields in Florida before you rush off to replace them.
While a broken windshield can be dangerous, in some cases, you may have a bit of time to get it repaired without facing legal consequences. Keep reading to learn when to fix that windshield crack ASAP and when you can put it off for a short time in the Sunshine State.
What Are Florida’s Laws on Cracked and Broken Windshields?
Florida takes cracked and broken windshields seriously due to safety concerns. Their laws aim to keep vehicles in roadworthy condition and protect drivers and passengers.
What constitutes an unsafe windshield in Florida?
A windshield is considered unsafe if it has cracks, chips, or breaks obstructing the driver’s view or could cause injury. Specifically:
- Any damage larger than a dollar bill, about 3 inches in diameter.
- Cracks longer than 8 inches.
- Damage that weakens the windshield structure.
- Chips or cracks in the driver’s field of vision.
If a police officer spots a vehicle with an unsafe windshield, they can pull you over and issue a “fix-it” ticket. You’ll have to get the windshield repaired or replaced within 30 days to avoid paying a fine and potentially having points added to your license.
When Can You Get a Ticket for a Damaged Windshield in Florida?
In Florida, police officers can issue you a ticket for driving with a damaged or cracked windshield if they believe it impairs your ability to drive safely. If the crack interferes with your visibility or the windshield’s integrity, you may face legal consequences.
Size and Location Matter
Minor chips, small cracks, or damage outside the driver’s field of vision usually will not warrant a ticket. However, larger cracks – especially those over 6 inches long or wider than a dollar bill – obstructing your view can be considered unsafe. Damage directly in front of the driver is particularly dangerous. Officers may warn for smaller cracks, but larger ones will likely lead to a ticket or even require the vehicle to be taken out of service until the windshield is repaired or replaced.
Impaired Visibility or Structural Damage
The main reasons police will ticket a driver for windshield damage are if it impairs the driver’s visibility or compromises the windshield’s structural integrity. A crack that obscures the driver’s view of the road, traffic lights, or other vehicles poses a safety risk and will likely result in a citation. Similarly, damage that weakens the windshield and could cause it to shatter more easily in a collision or impact warrants a ticket for unsafe vehicle operation.
Requirement to Repair or Replace
In some cases, officers may require the driver to have the windshield repaired or replaced immediately after issuing a ticket, especially if the damage severely impairs visibility or the windshield’s strength. Drivers should comply with such orders to avoid additional penalties. Waiting too long to fix major windshield damage could also be seen as willful neglect of the vehicle, which carries more severe consequences.
How Big Does a Windshield Crack Need to Be to Get a Ticket?
In Florida, the size of a windshield crack plays a large role in whether or not you’ll get a ticket. As a general rule, if the crack obstructs or impairs your view, it’s likely to get you pulled over.
Small cracks less than 6 inches
Small cracks, like a chip or small star in your windshield, typically won’t warrant a ticket on their own. However, police officers have discretion, so if the crack catches their attention during a traffic stop for another reason, they may issue you a “fix-it” ticket. This means you’ll have to get the crack repaired within a certain number of days to avoid paying a fine. It’s best to repair even small cracks to prevent them from spreading.
Cracks longer than 6 inches
Once a crack is longer than 6 inches, it can obstruct your view and become a safety hazard. Police officers are very likely to pull you over and issue a ticket for a crack this size or larger. They may even tow your vehicle to replace the windshield before allowing you to drive it again.
Cracks that cross the driver’s line of sight
Any crack that crosses into the area directly in front of the driver, known as the “critical viewing area,” is especially dangerous and illegal. These cracks severely obstruct your view of the road and will earn you a ticket without question. It’s not worth risking an accident by driving with a crack in this area.
The damage may be too severe to repair in some cases, and the entire windshield will need replacement. Driving a vehicle with non-repairable windshield damage is illegal in Florida and will result in a ticket, fines, and likely having your vehicle towed.
How Much Are Broken Windshield Tickets in Florida?
In Florida, driving with a cracked or broken windshield is illegal. If pulled over, you can receive a “defective vehicle” ticket, which typically comes with a fine of $116. However, the cost of a broken windshield ticket in Florida can vary in each county and city. Some factors that determine the ticket cost include:
- The severity of the crack or damage. Minor chips or small cracks may be less, while large cracks obstructing the driver’s view can be more.
- Your driving record. If you have previous traffic violations, the fine may be higher.
- Ability to get the windshield repaired or replaced. If you can prove that the windshield will be fixed within a certain period, the officer may waive the ticket. You will still need to pay any required court fees, though.
Some counties like Miami-Dade have diversion programs where you can get the ticket dismissed by fixing the windshield within 30 to 60 days and providing proof to the court. The fees for these programs are often less than the actual ticket fine.
Reach Out To An Experienced Boynton Beach Car Accident Lawyer
If you’re involved in a car accident in Florida, and your windshield is damaged, it’s important to know the laws regarding tickets and liability. Florida law states that you cannot be ticketed or cited if your windshield damage does not obstruct your view or put others in danger. However, if the damage makes it difficult or unsafe for you to drive, an officer does have the right to issue you a citation for an unsafe vehicle.
Speak with a lawyer. A broken windshield can complicate insurance claims and liability even if you’re not at fault for the accident. Reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer serving Boynton Beach for guidance. At Frankl Kominsky, we believe you deserve a fighting chance. Call us at (561) 800-8000.
A broken windshield can be dangerous and upsetting, but by taking the proper steps, you can resolve issues with tickets, claims, and costs. Stay calm, get help from legal and insurance professionals if needed, and focus on repairing your windshield immediately for maximum safety.