Currently, under Section 545.425 of the Texas Transportation Code drivers under the age of 18 years old are prohibited from using a wireless communication device except in an emergency.
Also, drivers of any age may not use a wireless communication device while in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or the driver is using a hands-free device. A “wireless communication device” is a device that uses a commercial mobile service which would be cell phones and tablets or even laptops with cell phone service.
Texas Anti-Texting Law
It is a misdemeanor offense in Texas for a driver to use a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless they are stopped.
This statute was long overdue, in that a vast majority of other states have implemented anti-texting and driving laws due to the inherent danger of texting while driving.
Studies prove states that have bans on texting while driving have much lower rates of texting while driving and less distracted driving wrecks.
In Texas, municipalities were forced to take the bull by the horns and pass city legislation trying to protect their communities. Our anti-texting law should remedy that problem for Texas.
Penalties Under the Law Texting Law
A first offense under the law will carry fines between $25 and $99 and the second offense between $100 and $200.
There are defenses available to the public under the new statute. A driver has a defense if:
- the driver is using a hands-free device, including voice-operated technology;
- the driver is reporting illegal activity or calling for emergency help;
- the driver is reading an electronic message that they reasonably believe is related to an emergency; or
- the driver is relaying information to a dispatcher or digital network through a device affixed to the vehicle that is part of the driver’s job.
Also, drivers of authorized emergency or law enforcement vehicles acting in their official capacity or driver’s license by the Federal Communications Commission operating a radio frequency device other than a portable wireless communication device are exempt from the statute.
The law also provides the benefits of requiring the driver’s license test to cover the effects of texting while driving and distracted driving generally. Studies have shown that initiatives aimed at education regarding the dangers of distracted driving are effective in reducing accidents.
The Texas Department of Transportation posts signs on both interstate and US highways educating the public on the prohibition of texting while driving in the state of Texas.
Police officers are prohibited from seizing or inspecting a driver’s cell phone unless they are authorized by another law.
Additionally, the DMV will not assign points toward a driver’s license for texting while driving offenses.
DOT Safety Tips
The US Department of Transportation offers the following safety tips:
- Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
- Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
- Speak up when you are a passenger, and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
- Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.
Contact a Houston Distracted Driving Attorney
Sometimes the other driver admits to being on the phone when the wreck happened. Other times, a personal injury lawyer may prove texting was involved in the crash.
If you or a family member have been injured in an auto accident involving a distracted driver and would like to discuss your rights and options, talk with a car accident lawyer!
Call (281) 587-1111.