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Texas House Approves Ban on Texting While Driving

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According to a report from The Texas Tribune, the Texas House has approved a bill which bans texting while driving in the state. This is not the first time that the bill has been sent to Governor Rick Perry’s desk, however, the governor vetoed the version which he was sent to his office in 2011. House Bill 80 was proposed by State Representative Tom Craddick, a Republican from Midland Texas. Basically, texting while driving would now be a misdemeanour in the state of Texas, with fines of up to $99 for the first offense, and $200 for additional offenses. It passed 102 to 40. The bill is now set to head to the Senate.  With the high incidents of Texans getting into car accidents the past several years, it’s a bill that has been in the making for a long, long time.  Many people have lost their lives while trying to text and drive.  Quite frankly, it’s just not worth the risk.  I’m sure the insurance industry will welcome the new law to Texas as passage of the law will ultimately reduce traffic accidents.

Texas bans texting while driving

Here is a copy of the bill in its entirety:

By:AACraddick H.B.ANo.A80
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to the use of a portable wireless communication device
while operating a motor vehicle; creating an offense; providing
penalties.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTIONA1.AAThis Act may be cited as the Alex Brown Memorial
Act.
SECTIONA2.AASections 521.161(b) and (c), Transportation
Code, are amended to read as follows:
(b)AA The examination must include:
(1)AAa test of the applicant’s:
(A)AA vision;
(B)AA ability to identify and understand highway
signs in English that regulate, warn, or direct traffic;
(C)AA knowledge of the traffic laws of this state;
[and]
(D)AA knowledge of motorists ’ rights and
responsibilities in relation to bicyclists; and
(E)AA knowledge of the effect of using a wireless
communication device, or engaging in other actions that may
distract a driver, on the safe or effective operation of a motor
vehicle;
(2)AA a demonstration of the applicant ’s ability to
exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a
motor vehicle of the type that the applicant will be licensed to
operate; and
(3)AAany additional examination the department finds
necessary to determine the applicant ’s fitness to operate a motor
vehicle safely.
(c)AAThe department shall give each applicant the option of
taking the parts of the examination under Subsections (b)(1)(B),
(C), [and] (D), and (E) in writing in addition to or instead of
through a mechanical, electronic, or other testing method.AAIf the
applicant takes that part of the examination in writing in addition
to another testing method, the applicant is considered to have
passed that part of the examination if the applicant passes either
version of the examination.AAThe department shall inform each
person taking the examination of the person ’s rights under this
subsection.
SECTIONA3.AASection 545.424, Transportation Code, is amended
by adding Subsection (g) to read as follows:
(g)AAAn offense under Subsection (a) or (b) is a misdemeanor
punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this
section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
least $100 and not more than $200.
SECTIONA4.AASection 545.425(a)(1), Transportation Code, is
amended to read as follows:
(1)AA”Hands-free device” means speakerphone
capability, [or] a telephone attachment, or another function or other piece of equipment, regardless of whether permanently
installed in or on a wireless communication device or in a [the]
motor vehicle, that allows use of the wireless communication device
without use of either of the operator ’s hands, except to activate or
deactivate a function of the wireless communication device or
hands-free device.
SECTIONA5.AASubchapter I, Chapter 545, Transportation Code,
is amended by adding Section 545.4251 to read as follows:
Sec.A545.4251.AAUSE OF PORTABLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION
DEVICE TO SEND TEXT-BASED COMMUNICATION; OFFENSE. (a) In this
section:
(1)AA”Text-based communication” means data that is read
from or manually entered into a wireless communication device,
including an SMS text, e-mail, instant message, or other form of
electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.
(2)AA”Wireless communication device” has the meaning
assigned by Section 545.425.
(b)AAAn operator commits an offense if the operator uses a
portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send a
text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the
vehicle is stopped and is outside a lane of travel.
(c)AAIt is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that
the operator used a portable wireless communication device:
(1)AAto read, select, or enter a telephone number or
name for the purpose of making a telephone call;
(2)AAin conjunction with voice-operated technology, a
push-to-talk function, or a hands-free device, as defined by
3
Section 545.425;
(3)AAto navigate using a global positioning system or
navigation service;
(4)AAto report illegal activity or summon emergency
help;
(5)AAto read a text-based communication that the person
reasonably believed concerned an emergency; or
(6)AAthat was affixed to the vehicle to relay
information between the operator and a dispatcher in the course of
the operator ’s occupational duties.
(d)AASubsection (b) does not apply to:
(1)AAan operator of an authorized emergency or law
enforcement vehicle using a portable wireless communication device
while acting in an official capacity; or
(2)AAan operator who is licensed by the Federal
Communications Commission while operating a radio frequency device
other than a portable wireless communication device.
(e)AAThis section does not preempt a local ordinance, rule,
or regulation adopted by a political subdivision relating to the
use of a portable wireless communication device by the operator of a
motor vehicle that is consistent with or more stringent than the
provisions of this section.
(f)AAAn offense under this section is a misdemeanor
punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this
section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
4
least $100 and not more than $200.
(g)AAThe Texas Department of Transportation shall post a sign
at each point at which an interstate highway or United States
highway enters this state that informs an operator that:
(1)AAthe use of a portable wireless communication
device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while
operating a motor vehicle is prohibited in this state; and
(2)AAthe operator is subject to a fine if the operator
uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or
send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle in
this state.
(h)AAA peace officer who stops a motor vehicle for an alleged
violation of this section may not take possession of or otherwise
inspect a portable wireless communication device in the possession
of the operator unless authorized by the Code of Criminal
Procedure, the Penal Code, or other law.
SECTIONA6.AASection 708.052, Transportation Code, is amended
by adding Subsection (e-1) to read as follows:
(e-1)AANotwithstanding Subsection (b), the department may
not assign points to a person ’s license if the offense of which the
person was convicted is the offense of using a portable wireless
communication device to send a text-based communication as
described by Section 545.4251.
SECTIONA7.AAThe changes in law made by this Act to Sections
545.424 and 545.425, Transportation Code, apply only to an offense
committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense
committed before the effective date of this Act is governed by the
5
law in effect on the date the offense was committed, and the former
law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this
section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this
Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.
SECTIONA8.AAThis Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

Sources:

Texas Tribune- https://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/25/texas-house-texting-while-driving/

KXAN- http://kxan.com/2015/03/25/texas-house-considers-texting-ban/

ABC News- http://abc13.com/politics/texas-house-approves-bill-to-ban-texting-while-driving/573074/

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  • manick munjal

    Great initiative.. Can be implemented around the world

  • manick munjal

    This is a great initiative for prevention of catastrophic road accidents. Hope other states as well as nation follow suit.

    – Manick Lal Munjal