Ask Trooper Steve: Is it legal to drive with headphones in your ears?

News 6 traffic safety expert answers viewer questions

By Steve Montiero - Traffic Anchor

ST. CLOUD, Fla. - We all love to travel with our favorite tunes playing on the radio, but what does the law say about jamming out with those awesome headphones in our ears while driving?

"Is it legal to drive with headphones in your ears," News 6 viewer Trey, from St. Cloud, asked.

Florida statute 316.304 states no person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset or other listening device other than a hearing aid or instrument for the improvement of a defective human hearing. Now, of course, there are exceptions to this law, which are listed in other subsections, but for the most part, having headphones in both ears is against the law.

I remember a time while I was in active trooper assigned to the motorcycle unit when I was attempting to make a traffic stop on another motorcycle. While initiating this traffic stop I was behind this motorist for roughly 2 to 3 miles and the driver would not stop or yield. 

Now they were not attempting to run away but they’re driving pattern didn’t change while I had my siren on right behind them. Over the course of the investigation, I did notice that he did have two headphones in his ears and speaking with him, he stated that he didn't hear me behind him because of the rock music he was listening to.

My biggest recommendation is that if you are going to travel with some type of audio headset in your ear is that you keep it to your right ear and right ear only.

Why? Well so that your left ear is exposed to the closest window so you're able to hear other traffic and emergency vehicles. This will also prevent law enforcement officers from assuming that you have both ears covered with a headset device.

If caught by a law-enforcement officer with headphones in both ears, even if you’re not listening to anything this could result in a $114 fine. Let's just leave it to one ear and making driving our priority when behind the wheel.

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