New Texting-and-Driving Law To Take Effect This Week

Criminal LawAfter numerous failed attempts at undertaking such restrictions over the past decade, the Texas Legislature has finally passed a texting-and-driving law which takes effect statewide on September 1, 2017. This legislation, which enacted Texas Transportation Code 545.4251, makes it a violation to “use a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.” This act “must be committed in the presence of or within the view of a peace officer or established by other evidence.” It is a defense to the law that you were using your phone to: (1) use your GPS; (2) play music; (3) use a work-related dispatch system that utilizes electronic messages; (4) report a crime; or (5) read a message that you reasonably believed “concerned an emergency.” The law does not apply to messages sent or received through a hands-free system. A violation of the law is punishable by a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense, and $100 to $200 for a subsequent offense. If a violation resulted in injury or death to another, it is punishable by a “fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year.” BE SAFE OUT THERE.

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