On Sept. 1, H.B. No. 62 went into effect, creating a statewide ban in Texas that makes it illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle.
The texting while driving bill was originally signed into law in June with the hope it would make the Texas’s roadways safer by reducing the number of severe auto accidents caused by distracted driving.
In Texas, one out of every five auto accidents involves a distracted driver. In 2016, there were 106,658 auto accidents that involved a distracted driver, a three percent increase over the previous year. More than 3,000 people were seriously injured as a result and more than 455 people died, according to TxDOT.
If you were injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, the Fort Worth personal injury attorneys of Anderson Cummings can help with your claim. Contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have legal options for holding the at-fault driver liable for the damages you suffered.
What is the New Law?
Under the new law, motorists are prohibited from reading, composing or sending an electronic message while a vehicle is in motion.
However, motorists are still allowed to read a text message if it pertains to an emergency situation or if the vehicle is stopped and no longer in motion, such as while the driver is waiting at a red light.
The law only bans motorists from using cellphones to communicate through electronic messaging. This means motorists are still allowed to use cellphones for:
- Talking on the phone, hands-free
- Using GPS apps
- Playing music
- Calling for emergency assistance or to report a crime
Before the new legislation was enacted, it was illegal in Texas to text while operating a vehicle in a school zone. Also, motorists who were under the age of 18 and bus drivers transporting minor passengers were prohibited from texting while driving.
What are the Penalties for Texting While Driving?
In order to enforce the new statewide ban on texting while driving, law enforcement officers throughout Texas will be monitoring driver activity and issuing the following penalties:
- First time offenders: $25 to $99 fine
- Repeat offenders: up to $200 fine
Anyone who is convicted of texting and driving after causing an auto accident that resulted in the serious injury or death of another could face a maximum fine of $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
How Will the Law be Enforced?
To identify possible violations of the new law, police will look for motorists who display signs and behavior that resemble drunk driving, such as:
- Weaving in and out of lanes on the roadway
- Driving at a slow speed
- Making sudden or erratic corrections in their driving pattern
- Visibly looking down from the roadway at a phone
Although the law is designed to catch motorists who choose to text while driving, there are currently several restrictions that may make this task difficult for law enforcement and state officials to enforce.
If a law enforcement officer pulls over a motorist on the suspicion that he or she is texting while driving, the officer cannot inspect the motorist’s phone.
Also, if a person attempts to fight the citation in court, prosecutors have to subpoena his or her texting history when the driver was pulled over, which can be too expensive and time consuming for such a minor offense, according to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
Contact Our Fort Worth Lawyers Now
Any form of distracted driving poses a danger to all motorists, passengers and pedestrians sharing the roadway.
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone who was texting while operating a vehicle, contact the dedicated attorneys and legal team at Anderson & Cummings.
We are ready to provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to review your claim and determine if you are entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries. We only accept cases on a contingency basis, which means you only have to pay us if we recover compensation for your claim.
Call (817) 920-9000 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.