Texas’ Texting While Driving Law Takes Effect Today
If you have a habit of texting while driving, now's the day to quit.
As of Friday, September 1, House Bill 62 makes operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless device to write, read, or send a message a misdemeanor criminal offense, and provides enhanced penalties if texting while driving causes injuries to or the death of another person.
As we reported back in June, first time offenders will face a fine up to $99, while repeat offenders can expect to pay up to $200.
After undergoing several amendments, the bill passed with allowances for texting while the vehicle is stopped at a red light, as well as using wireless device to operate the vehicle’s stereo system. Drivers may also continue to use GPS services on their wireless devices.
House Bill 62 was called the Alex Brown Memorial Act in honor of a 17-year-old Seagraves, Texas girl who was fatally injured in November of 2009 when her truck rolled, crushing her. Alex Brown was reportedly carrying on text conversations with four people while driving, and was not wearing a seat belt.
In March of 2017, authorities determined that the driver of a truck that slammed head-on into a church bus carrying senior citizens, killing 13 people, was texting just before the impact.
Other laws going into effect in Texas today include:
-Senate Bill 16, which reduces handgun license issuance or renewel fees from $140 to $40, and waves the issuance fee for law enforcement officers.
-House Bill 1935, which repeals "illegal knives" statutes and allows for the open carry of large knives, swords, and other blade. However, there are some restrictions on where such instruments may be carried, including schools, jails, and bars.
-Senate Bill 693, which requires that new school buses must have three-point seat belts.
-House Bill 1774, which reduces penalties faced by insurance companies for late payments should a policyholder sue.