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Texting While Driving Banned Statewide

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Friday, September 29, 2017

As of  September 1st, texting while driving within the state of Texas is punishable by a fine of $25-99 for first-time offenders, and $100-200 for repeat offenders (though no points will be assigned). The new law also states that if an accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year (in addition to any other charges/punishments).

It’s important to note that this new law only addresses “reading, writing, or sending electronic messages” via a “wireless communication device.” It is still legal for motorists in most cities to use their phone for GPS navigation, music apps, dialing phone numbers, etc., but drivers may still get pulled over if an officer suspects them of texting.

While the law includes a provision to preempt local texting-and-driving ordinances which already existed in over 100 cities, it does not address stricter cell phone bans (i.e., hands-free laws) put in place by at least 45 other Texas cities such as Austin, San Antonio, Denton and El Paso. Attempts made during the special session to roll back any city ordinances that ban mobile phone use beyond texting while driving were supported by Governor Abbott, but did not come to fruition. Cities are still free to pass (and enforce) hands-free laws within their city limits.

 

This new law adds to some existing laws that prohibit all drivers under 18 and school bus drivers from texting or making telephone calls while driving—even with a hands-free device. Texas also forbids use of phones in school zones. In 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finalized rules to restrict texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones by truck and bus drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle.   

Tags:  #txlege  rural texas  rural water  Texas legislature  Texas water  TRWA  water operators 

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