In June of this year, Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law that will ban texting and driving across the state of Texas. Previously, texting and driving was only restricted by local laws. While those laws will still be in effect for pertinent areas, the statewide ban will also be enforced. This law went into effect on September 1 of this year, so it’s important that you know what this new law entails and what possible repercussions there may be for breaking it.
What’s the Law?
Simply put, the law prohibits any reading, writing, or sending of text messages while operating a vehicle. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 1 in 5 car accidents involve a distracted driver, so the law was created in an effort to make roads safer.
Hands-free devices that read your texts to you, or voice-to-text functionalities that allow you to send texts without picking up your phone are okay to use. Simply put, if you have to look down at your phone to do it, you’re breaking the law.
It’s also important to note that the law does not prohibit texting at a red light, because you’re not technically operating a vehicle when you’re stopped at the light. However, officials caution that texting at a light can still be hazardous, as it can inhibit you from noticing the light turning green. Additionally, if an officer sees you moving away from a red light while still texting, you can be pulled over.
How Is It Enforced?
Some people think that this new ban will be difficult to enforce, but police officers will look for any drivers who are obviously driving distracted. This means swerving in their lane or looking down at their laps–a tell-tale sign of many texting drivers. If you’re suspected of texting while driving, you will be pulled over. If you’ve been ticketed when you weren’t breaking the law, call a Houston criminal defense lawyer right away.
What’s the Consequence?
People who break the new texting and driving ban can face a fine up to $99 for the first offense, and up to $200 for any subsequent offenses. If you’ve been ticketed for texting and driving, look for a criminal defense attorney in Houston, TX.