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Q

I live in FL and have a smashed windshield and only PIP on my insurance. Can I have it replaced for free and is it against the law to drive with it broke?


A

In Florida if you only have the state minimum required insurance, which is PIP (personal injury protection) and property damage liability (PD), then your windshield would not be covered by these coverages.

Glass breakage as well as repair or replacement of a windshield is typically covered by comprehensive insurance coverage which is a type of physical damage coverage. In Florida when you have this type of policy (or collision) the deductible is waived when the front windshield is being replace due to damage, such as it being cracked.

Florida Statute 627.7288 states that the deductible shall not apply to windshield damages. However, you must have either comprehensive or collision coverage. A policy that provides liability coverage only will not cover your windshield.

Whether you can be stopped and ticketed for the windshield depends on the type of damage and if law enforcement believes it to be obstructing the drivers view or to be unsafe. This issue has been the discussion of court cases

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Section 316.2952 of the Florida statutes merely requires a car to have a windshield, but does not contain requirements for the "proper condition" of the windshield. A FL state court has reasoned that driving with a cracked windshield would be a traffic violation only if it violated the "unsafe condition" portion of section 316.610.

Section 316.610 is titled Safety of vehicle; inspection. This state law notes that it is a violation of this chapter for any person to drive . . . any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property, or which does not contain those parts or is not at all times equipped with such lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter.

The Second District court concluded that because a windshield is required by section 316.2952, it is a violation of section 316.610 to drive a vehicle with a windshield that is not in proper condition. The Second District also noted that because subsection (2) of section 316.610 authorizes an officer to give a driver written notice to repair a vehicle equipment defect even where that defect does not present unduly hazardous operating conditions, officers may properly stop a vehicle to give such a notice.

Other courts have found that an officer may stop a vehicle for a windshield crack only if the crack poses a safety hazard. An officer is not authorized under section 316.610 to stop a vehicle for just any windshield crack under the "not in proper adjustment or repair" provision of subsection.

So it really depends upon how bad the damage is to your windshield whether you can be stopped and ticketed (or warned) for driving with it. If it is smashed and it makes driving dangerous of unsafe and the driver's view is obstructed then likely you could get stopped by the police so we would advise you to get it repaired or replaced.

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