Driving to Florida: Tips, Tricks, and Laws

Before heading to Florida, plan out a prudent route, try to avoid heavy traffic, and learn about the state’s laws.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
Florida has a few toll highways, which will help cut down the time you spend in the Sunshine State’s heavier traffic. But whether you’re roasting on a Florida interstate or enjoying the ocean breeze whipping through your hair on a coastal roadway, there are plenty of road trips to Florida and within this great state to make any traffic worth it.
If you’re mulling over the idea of hitting the road and heading to Florida, don’t let the state’s middling road conditions and heavy urban traffic deter you!
We're here to guide you through Florida’s roads. We'll bring you the lowdown on Florida’s road conditions, how best to avoid traffic, and the laws you’ll need to be aware of to make your trip hassle-free. Naturally, we’ll introduce you to some of the Sunshine State's
road trip essentials
, whether you’re heading to Florida or you’re already there!
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The best routes for driving to Florida

Whether you’re looking for a respite from cold Northern climes, exchanging one coast for another, or just making a quick trip to Disney World, we’re here to map out some great trips to Florida. Here are some popular ones:
  • Boston
    (22 hours, 45 minutes): Your barnstorming tour south from Boston will take you through the insurance capital,
    Hartford, CT
    —what, you didn’t know?—before hitting a who’s who of Northeastern urbanity. Drive through
    New York City
    , and
    Washington D.C.
    before motoring through the Old Dominion of
    and hopscotching over the Carolinas. Make a stop in spooky
    Savannah, Georgia
    , before you hit
    and sling yourself down Florida’s Atlantic coast, hopefully arriving in Miami in time for the early-bird special.
  • Chicago
    (17 hours, 30 minutes): Hit the road in the Windy City and make your way south through
    before hitting
    and all that’s cool in
    . Before you know it you’ll be blazing through Hot’lanta on your way to the Sunshine State. Stretch your legs in
    with a walk through the University of Florida’s gorgeous campus before heading south through Central Florida, bypassing the Ocala National Forest. Soon you’ll be planning your next shuffleboard game in Tampa.
  • San Diego
    Key West
    (42 hours): If you like coasts, but are sick and tired of the Pacific (or just want a change of scenery), leave
    La Jolla
    in the dust and head for Ernest Hemingway’s old stomping grounds of
    Key West, Florida
    . This sun-drenched, cross-country journey will take you skimming along the
    -Mexico border before you dart across
    New Mexico
    ’s mercurial desert expanses. Cut through the West
    badlands and make stops in
    San Antonio
    (for the Riverwalk) and
    before heading east through
    swampland. Hug the Gulf Coast through
    Biloxi, Mississippi
    , and
    Mobile, Alabama
    , and then head south through Florida, cutting through
    and Miami. Before you know it, you’ll be kicking up your heels in the Florida Keys.
  • Atlanta
    to Orlando (6 hours): When the kids are tearing your hair out demanding to go to Disney World—take them. It’s just a six-hour jaunt from Atlanta to Orlando. Pass by Cypress Creek Wildlife Area and Ocala National Forest before landing in Orlando, no doubt welcomed by Mickey and Minnie. Treat yourself to one of those giant turkey thighs as a reward.

How good are Florida’s roads?

Overall, Florida’s roads are nothing to write home about. According to the Reason Foundation’s
Annual Highway Report
, the Sunshine State’s roads are ranked in the bottom 10 in the country overall, ranking 41st in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness, and 37th in traffic congestion.
Florida’s road surfaces and bridges do get high marks, though.
As a rule of thumb, the busier the city, the worse the roads are. Miami,
Fort Lauderdale
, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville are known to have bad roads and heavy traffic.

Does Florida have toll roads?

Florida does have some toll roads, which are priced by the mile and the number of axles on your vehicle. Here are the most used toll roads in the Sunshine State:
  • The Florida Turnpike (Ocala to Homestead)
  • Alligator Alley (I-75 between Miami and Naples)
  • Bee Line Expressway (Orlando to Cape Canaveral)
  • Some coastal islands with bridges have tolls
You can pay cash at some tolls, but you’ll need exact change at unmanned toll booths. Where electronic tolling is in effect, Toll By Plate can be used. The system takes a photo of your license plate and mails you a bill, plus a $2.50 service charge.
If you’re a Florida resident, you might want to get SunPass, where your car will be scanned and the toll fee will be debited from a prepaid account.

How bad is Florida traffic?

Overall, Florida’s traffic ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of traffic across the U.S. However, Florida’s rush-hour traffic is ranked the 5th worst in the country. The busiest cities for traffic in Florida are the following:
A good thing to remember when road-tripping through Florida is to try and avoid rush hour traffic, especially in bigger cities. If you can, hit the road before 6am, or start your drive after the evening rush hour has died down.

What are Florida’s speeding laws?

Florida has two kinds of speeding laws—basic speeding laws and absolute speeding laws. We’ll break them both down for you.
  • Basic speeding laws: basic speeding laws prevent you from speeding beyond what is reasonable and prudent for the existing conditions and potential hazards existing at the time. If you’re driving 60 mph on the highway on a beautiful day, that’s ok. But driving the same speed in the midst of hurricane-force winds can get you cited for
    reckless driving
  • Absolute speeding laws: these laws are what’s posted on signs—if you’re driving faster than the posted speed, you’re breaking the law. In Florida, the absolute speed limit for highways is 70 miles per hour and lower. For residential and business districts, it is usually 30 miles per hour.
If you are cited for a speeding violation in Florida, you can get three demerit
points on your driving record
. The more demerit points you get can lead to increasingly severe penalties, including steeper fines, license suspensions, and even reckless driving charges, which can lead to jail time.

Fines for speeding in Florida

Fines for speeding in Florida can be up to $500. If you're caught speeding in either school or construction zones, you can face a fine of up to $1000. In lieu of a fine, a judge may order you to take a driver improvement course instead.

What are Florida’s alcohol laws?

Florida’s alcohol laws are straightforward—the blood alcohol content (BAC) limits are 0.08% (adults), 0.04% (commercial drivers), and 0.02% (drivers under 21). 
Also, it is illegal to have open alcohol containers in a vehicle in Florida. And of course, remember—never drink and drive.
Alcohol-related violations, such as
, can have serious repercussions for your driving privileges. You can face fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, or even imprisonment. If you’re driving or road-tripping through Florida (or anywhere, really), stay dry—don’t drink and drive!

Can you use headphones while driving in Florida?

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to wear headphones or earbuds while driving. 

What are some of Florida’s best road trips?

We thought you’d never ask! There are lots of opportunities for great road trips through Florida, whether going on a Miami—Tampa—Orlando—Jacksonville city tour, or a Gulf or Atlantic Coast road trip. Perhaps a
Florida foodie road trip
might be more to your taste? Or, try one of the following road trips leading into or out of Florida:

How to find affordable car insurance in Florida

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