Everything You Need to Know about Texas’ Texting and Driving Law
Texas enacted a statewide ban on texting and driving on September 1st, 2017. Currently, in the State of Texas, you can only use your phone to play music, operate a GPS, report a crime, or seek emergency help while you are driving.
This law could have massive repercussions for the people of Texas. As a Houston personal injury attorney, I want you to stay safe on the road. Keep reading about what the law might mean for you and your family.
Penalties for Texting and Driving
House Bill 62, which is the law that stipulates the ban, makes texting and driving a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, but they are not anything to be trifled with. They go on your record.
Those who are caught texting and driving will be fined up to $99 the first time. If someone has been convicted of texting and driving before, they can face fines of $200.
Getting caught for texting and driving does not meant that points go on your license.
Why This Law was Enacted
Distracted driving was the cause of 3,477 deaths nationwide in 2015 alone. The citizens of Texas were involved in 109,658 car crashes due to distracted driving in 2016 alone. That means that 1 in 5 car crashes in Texas are caused by not focusing on the road.
Texas has this law as a result of a state-wide lobbying campaign. Our state now joins 47 others with similar laws. In 2011, a similar bill was passed by the Texas House and Senate, but then Governor Rick Perry vetoed it.
What You Can and Cannot Do According to the Law
Law enforcement will be on the lookout for people who are reading, writing, or sending text messages while they are driving. A sign of this may be swerving, or a driver operating their car with their head down.
The law says that you cannot text while you are operating a vehicle. Technically, this law does not apply when someone is stopped at a red light or a stop sign. This means that you can write a message while your car is not moving, although that is not advisable.
Drivers are allowed to use hands-free technology to send a message. Speech-to-text programs are still ok. In addition, drivers may still place a phone call while they are driving.
Exactly how police officers can determine what the person is doing on their phone has yet to be decided. It remains unclear how this will change the behavior of law enforcement. Up to this law, police officers issued fines for activities associated with texting and driving, such as driving slowly or swerving erratically.
Opponents of the law have pointed out that perhaps the law does not go far enough. The use of internet browsers, search functions, and games have not been addressed. Phone calls can be quite distracting, and they are still allowed. Some local ordinances ban driving and doing anything else at the same time, and it may prove wise to check with your city.
August 15, 2017 11:19 am
Categories: Truck Accident