A new law went into effect across Texas on Friday, Sept. 1, making it illegal to text and drive. The long-anticipated law now makes it legal for motorists to text while inside their vehicles only if they’re stopped in a safe place, reporting a crime or emergency or using a hands-free device.
Any motorist who uses any portable, wireless device to either write, read or send an email while the car is in motion is considered to have violated this new law.
Cellphone usage is also prohibited for some populations. For example, motorists under the age of 18 are not allowed to either text or use their cellphone for making calls while operating a car. Motorcycle or moped operators are disallowed from doing so under the age of 17. The only exception to this rule is if the minor is reporting an emergency.
If you happen to be stopped for violating the texting and driving law, then you could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. This type of crime is punished by a maximum fine of $99. If you’ve previously been charged with the crime before, though, you could be fined as much as $200.
Violations of this law is considered a Class A misdemeanor if the driver either seriously injures or kills another. It also carries with it up to a $4,000 fine and a sentence of up to a year in jail.
Much like speeding and open container violations, Texas motorists who violate texting and driving laws cannot be arrested, but instead just cited for their crimes. Additionally, in order to charge someone for having violated the new state law, he or she must actually be seen by the officer carrying out the illegal offense.
The Texas Department of Transportation (Tx-DOT) released statistics for 2016 that shows that 109,658 car accidents resulting from distracted driving happened statewide. Of those, it’s believed that 3,087 resulted in someone suffering serious injuries. At least 455 died as a result of their involvement in them. They note that at least 20 percent of all crashes in the state each year can be blamed on distracted driving.
If you’ve been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a distracted driving crash, then you may wish to discuss legal remedies you can pursue with a Houston motor vehicle accident attorney.
Source: Waxahachie TX Daily Light, “Statewide ban on texting and driving began Sept. 1, local officers urge drivers to adhere,” Andrew Branca, Sep. 06, 2017