This section of the Florida driver handbook provides a guide to vehicles that may be driven on Florida roads. Included is a basic guide to maintaining your car covering topics like brakes, lights, your horn, windows, signals and equipment that his not permitted by the State of Florida.
These items will be checked before you take the driving test for your license. If your tires, brake light, directional signals, brakes, steering, horn or mirror are not in good condition, you will not be allowed to take the driving test.
You may be stopped at any time by a law enforcement officer for a vehicle inspection.
The equipment on your car must meet certain standards. These are listed below.
Your car must have two braking systems. Each must be able to stop the car alone. The parking or emergency brake should be strong enough to hold the car on any hill. Your brakes must be able to stop your car within the distance shown on the chart on the right.
You must be able to stop your car within the distance shown by the black cars when you use the foot brake. For safest driving, keep your brakes in such good condition that you can stop within distance shown by the white cars.
It is important to note that the graph below illustrates the braking distance AFTER YOU HAVE APPLIED YOUR BRAKES. To this must be added a REACTION DISTANCE, which is the distance you travel from seeing the danger to putting your foot on the brake pedal. Since 3/4 second is the average reaction time, a motorist will travel 11 feet for each 10 m.p.h. of speed before hitting the brake. At 50 m.p.h. this distance would be 55 feet!
Your car must have the following lights:
All vehicles, including animal-drawn vehicles, must have at least one white light visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the front. They must also have two red lights visible from a distance of not less than 1,000 feet to the rear, or one red light visible to the rear for a distance of 1,000 feet and two red reflectors visible from all distances from 600 feet to 1,000 feet.
Horn: Your vehicle must have a horn which can be heard from a distance of 200 feet.
Windshield Wiper: Your vehicle must have a windshield wiper in good working order for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield.
Windshields: Must be safety glass and may not be covered or treated with any material which has the effect of making the windshield reflective or in any way non-transparent. It must be free of any stickers not required by law.
Side windows: May not be composed of, covered by, or treated with any material which has a highly reflective or mirrored appearance and reflects more than 35% of the light.
Rear windows: When the rear window is composed of, covered by, or treated with any material which makes the rear window non-transparent, the vehicle must be equipped with side mirrors on both sides.
Directional signals: You must have electrical turn signals if your vehicle measures more than 24 inches from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body, or when the distance from the steering post to the rear of the body or load is greater than 14 feet.
Tires: Your tires should have visible tread of at least 2/32 of an inch across the base with no worn spots showing the ply. Smooth tires on wet roads contribute to thousands of serious crashes.
Mirrors: Your car must have at least one rearview mirror which gives a view of the highway at least 200 feet to the rear.
No matter how well you drive, you are not safe unless your vehicle is in good condition. If it is not, you could have a serious crash.
Brakes: Check to see that the pedal stays well above the floor when you step on it. If the car pulls to one side when you use the brakes or you hear any scraping or squealing noises, your brakes may need to be repaired.
Lights: Replace burned-out bulbs and clean lenses often. Dirty headlights can cut your night vision by one-half. Burned out signal lights or brake lights mean you can't tell other drivers what you are doing. Keep your lights adjusted so that you don't blind oncoming drivers.
Windows and Windshields: Keep the glass clean, inside and out, to reduce glare.
You may not have on or in your vehicle:
Owners of automobiles and pickup trucks are required to have both front and rear bumpers mounted within certain height levels. Height limitations are governed by the new shipping weight of the vehicle; not the modified or altered weight. The maximum allowable heights between the pavement and bottom of the front and rear bumper, as provided by Section 316.251, Florida Statutes, are:
It is illegal to tamper with, remove, or cause not to work, any pollution control device on your vehicle. Those who do are guilty of a first or second degree misdemeanor depending on the offense.
Tampering with emissions control devices damages your vehicle and can cause the following:
DO NOT EXHAUST FLORIDA'S FUTURE!
Anti-locking brakes prevent skidding and allow drivers to steer during an emergency, braking situation. ABS can help improve vehicle stability (avoiding spinouts), steering ability (directing the car where the driver wants to go) and stopping capability (distance needed to stop the vehicle).
Many drivers learned the correct way to stop in an emergency situation where traction is lost and the vehicle slides is by pumping the brakes, while this is correct with conventional brakes, with ABS it is different. All drivers need to do with vehicles who have ABS is press down hard on the brake pedal, hold it and steer out of danger. In an emergency situation, ABS pumps the brakes for the driver and pumps the brakes at a much faster rate than the driver ever could. Drivers should be aware that removing steady pressure from the brake pedal or pumping the brakes will disengage or "turn off the ABS".
One of the most important benefits of ABS is that driver can steer the vehicle away from hazards while braking. Drivers should not turn the steering wheel hard or jerk the vehicle in one direction. Control of the vehicle can be maintained by steering where the driver wants to go. Drivers need to check that traffic is clear when deciding where to steer and always remember to steer back into the original lane as soon as the hazard is cleared.
Vehicles can be equipped with two different types of ABS:
Drivers can determine whether their cars have ABS by looking for a lighted ABS symbol on the dashboard right after starting the engine, checking the owners manual or asking the dealer.
Steering Lock Operation Instructions
(Automobile Safety Foundation)
There is a separate written test and road test for motorcycle operators. If you plan to operate motorcycles and vehicles with four or more wheels, you must take the written test and road test for motorcycles, and the regular written test and road test for automobiles.
Extra information for motorcycle operators is available in a separate handbook. Ask for a copy of the motorcycle handbook if you will be operating a motorcycle. Read and study this manual and the motorcycle handbook before taking your license examination. All first time applicants applying for motorcycle endorsements who are under 21 years of age, must complete a department-approved motorcycle safety course before they can be licensed to operate a motorcycle.
Contact your local Florida driver license office for school locations.
Persons riding bicycles or mopeds on a roadway have the same rights (with certain exceptions)and duties as drivers of motor vehicles. Bicycle riders will receive traffic tickets for traffic violations. Know and obey these laws:
Persons riding mopeds have the same rights and duties as drivers of motor vehicles. Moped riders will receive citations for traffic violations.
Know and obey these moped laws:
If you accept employment or engage in a trade, profession or occupation in Florida or if you enroll your children to be educated in a public school in Florida, the vehicle you own must have a Florida registration certificate and license plate. You must obtain the registration certificate and license plate within 20 days after the beginning of such employment or enrollment. You also must have a Florida Certificate of Title for your vehicle, unless an out-of-state financial institution holds the title and will not release it to Florida.
To get your license plate and registration certificate, you must prove that you own your vehicle and that you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage for your vehicle. You must prove ownership by showing your certificate of title. You must prove PIP coverage by showing an insurance identification card or other acceptable proof. The vehicle identification number (VIN) on any vehicle previously titled or registered in another state must be verified by one of several designated officials before the vehicle can be titled and registered in Florida. The VIN on any new vehicle purchased from an out-of-state dealer to be initially titled in Florida must also be verified.
Apply for title, license plates and registration at any tax collector's office in Florida. The cost of your license plate will depend on the type and weight of your vehicle. Your vehicle must always have a current license plate and you must always have your vehicle's registration when you are driving.
If you buy a vehicle from a dealer in Florida, the dealer must apply for a certificate of title, certificate of registration and license plate for you. If you buy a vehicle from an individual, you must obtain the title from the individual and apply for a certificate of title in your name. You may apply for certificate of title, certificate of registration and license plate at the same time. You cannot get a license plate until you have a title to prove that you own the vehicle.
Vehicle license plates and registration must be renewed each year, on or before the birthday of the first owner listed on the registration form. Each time you renew, you must prove that you have the required insurance. You may renew by mail.
Registrations expire at midnight on the birthday of the first owner listed on the registration form, except for:
For more information or assistance on motor vehicle title and registration, contact your local tax collector's office.