While Texas enacted a primary ban on text messaging or texting while driving activities, the state law does not prohibit many of other kinds of distractions that drivers can engage in which may cause crashes.
State Senator Judith Zaffirini told the Houston Chronicle that, while the original bill did contain a number of “carve-outs,” she expected distracted driving laws to be bolstered during the upcoming session.
The Texas Department of Transportation reported that there were 451 people killed in crashes involving distracted driving in 2017 and 398 people killed in such crashes in 2018 – a 12 percent decrease. The Longview News-Journal stated in an editorial that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) had given out over 1,100 tickets and more than 4,000 warning citations during the year since the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 62 (HB 62).
What Does the Texas Texting Law Actually Cover?
HB 62 made it illegal for all drivers to send or receive electronic messages while driving. Drivers with learner’s permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving, and drivers under 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices.
All drivers are prohibited from texting or using handheld devices while driving in school zones. School bus operators cannot use cell phones while driving when children are present.
Certain municipalities in Texas may also have their own additional ordinances that impose additional restrictions in some cases.
Penalties for Texting While Driving in Texas
HB 62 establishes that a first violation of the state law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25 up to $99. A second or subsequent offense can be punishable by $100 up to $200.
When an alleged offender is shown at trial to have caused death or serious bodily injury to another person because of a violation of state law, then the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could be punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
Difficulties Proving Texting While Driving
Texting while driving bans are difficult to enforce nationwide because it can be very difficult for police officers to clearly identify when motorists are texting. Many drivers attempt to be discreet while texting. Some will try to avoid a ticket by claiming they were not texting, but were instead using their phones for other functions like GPS or music.
When there is a debate about what a driver was doing on their phone at the time of an accident, an attorney may be able to subpoena that driver’s phone records. When the records indicate that a person was indeed sending a text message at the time of a crash, it can usually be entered as evidence of the driver being negligent.
Contact Tate Law Offices If You Were Injured by a Texting Driver
Did a texting driver cause a crash that severely injured you? You shouldn’t have to suffer due to their poor decision-making. The Texas distracted driving lawyers of Tate Law Offices are prepared to aggressively seek compensation and justice on your behalf.
Our firm has a more than 99 percent success rate that includes over 3,000 case victories. You can have us discuss all of your rights when you call us or contact us online to set up a free consultation.