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10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Florida

Florida is a great place to raise a family, vacation, or even retire. But you'd be a fool to do any of the above without knowing at least some of the Sunshine State's laws.

Don't even think about passing down that "Golden Girls"-style South Beach pad without first learning if your will is valid under Florida law. And while you may have the pants and the look of "Miami Vice," you should probably know the DUI laws before you hit the road.

To make your Florida fantasy a legal reality, check out these 10 laws you should know:

  1. DUI threshold. The presumptive limit for intoxication in Florida is a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, but drivers under 21 can be charged with only a 0.02 percent BAC.
  2. Cell phone use while driving. Distracted driving laws may prevent most cell phone use in the Sunshine State, but arguably, you still may be able to text at a stoplight.
  3. Divorce requirements. To begin the divorce process in Florida, you need to be a resident of the state for at least six months.
  4. Marital property division. Florida is not a community property state, but it has adopted laws protecting marital property after a spouse dies.
  5. Comparative fault for injuries. Florida has a pure comparative fault model for injuries. Basically, you pay only for the percentage of the harm that you're found responsible for.
  6. Statutes of limitation. Burned over medical malpractice? You'll have a maximum of four years to sue under Florida's laws; the time limits are different for other types of civil and criminal cases.
  7. Will requirements. Think you can scrawl your will on a bar napkin and have it be legal? Think again. Florida doesn't recognize most holographic (i.e., handwritten) wills.
  8. Living will requirements. If you want a living will in Florida, you'll need witnesses, and at least one of them needs to be a non-spouse and non-blood relative.
  9. Gambling laws. Looking for a casino? Florida law does allow tribal gaming (read: Indian casinos) and there are several of them throughout the state.
  10. Age of majority and emancipation. Although it may seem more libertine at times, Florida's age of majority and emancipation is 18.

Florida can be a safe haven for you if you remember to learn its laws, and you can read more about them in FindLaw's section on Florida law.

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