Texas lawmakers have passed a bill designed to make texting and emailing while driving on roadways in the Lone Star State illegal. Governor Greg Abbott was reportedly undecided on how to act regarding the legislation, with his staff indicating that he had some concerns about the bill.
The Current State of Texting and Driving in Texas
At the present time, a good number of local jurisdictions across Texas have passed ordinances restricting or banning texting and driving. These ordinances take different approached to texting and driving.
One of the objectives of House Bill 62 was to bring uniformity to texting and driving regulation in the state. In addition, the legislation is intended to ban texting and driving in those parts of the state that currently do not restrict the practice.
At the present time, 44 Texas cities, including the state capital of Austin, ban all use of a mobile devices while driving. Over 60 local jurisdictions ban only texting and driving, a type of ban that also usually includes emailing while driving.
The History of House Bill 62
The passage of House Bill 62 came after one of its sponsors spent five legislative sessions trying to get a bill through both houses of the Legislature. The Governor vetoed a prior texting and driving law in 2011. In vetoing that legislation, the Governor contended it micromanaged the behavior of adults.
One difference in the current incarnation of the legislation is its tight focus on restricting texting and emailing. House Bill 62 does not criminalize using certain other apps on a mobile device or talking on the phone while driving.
Sanctions in House Bill 62
House Bill 62 imposes fines for texting and emailing while driving. The first time a person is found guilty of the offense, he or she faces a fine of between $25 and $99. Subsequent convictions can result in a fine of $200.
Preempts Local Ordinances
The legislation signed by the Governor preempts the provisions of local ordinances across the state in regard to texting and emailing. House Bill 62 will become law, and any local ordinances that further restrict talking on the phone and other activities undertaken on mobile devices will still remain in place.
A member of the Governor’s staff indicates that the Governor’s concern rests on the fact that local ordinances are not completely abrogated if House Bill 62 is signed into law. Governor Abbott seemingly favors a complete elimination of local ordinances through preemption by the new state law.
Texas Church Bus Accident
The passage of legislation designed to prohibit texting while driving comes on the heels of a horrific church bus accident that occurred in Texas in March of this year. Twelve passengers in a church bus returning from a choir retreat were killed, while others were seriously injured. The accident was caused by a pickup truck driver who lost control of his vehicle because he was texting.
The accident happened on a highway near San Antonio. The collision occurred in a part of the state in which there is no restriction on or regulation of texting while driving at this time.
Protect Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver who may have been texting and driving, contact The Law Offices of David Kohm today. You can reach us using our online form or by calling 817-522-4451. We can schedule your free initial consultation at a time that is convenient for you.