Many people think they are experts at multitasking while driving. Too often, a driver thinks nothing of texting while driving – after all, they may have done it a thousand times before without incident. The problem is that it only takes one time for a serious car accident to change your or someone else’s life instantly.
At The Stewart Law Firm, located in Austin, we want to ensure that you feel safe on the road — and that others are safe as well. Texting while driving has already harmed so many. We hope that discussing the dangers of this practice will help curb the number of people on the road texting while driving.
Is Texting While Driving Illegal in Texas?
Texas has a law that prohibits drivers under the age of 18 or those who have had their learners permit for less than six months from using cell phones or texting while driving. This law also applies to people who drive school buses.
Then, in 2017, the Alex Brown Memorial Act went into effect. The law, which means a driver can no longer send an electronic message while driving, is punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses. According to the Department of Public Safety, a ticket for this offense is considered a Class C misdemeanor.
Other laws in Texas against Distracted Driving
Currently, Texas’ distracted driving law prohibits:
- “Electronic messaging,” including texting, emailing, and instant messaging
- Drivers under the age of 18 from using wireless communication devices
- Drivers over the age of 18 with learner’s permits from using handheld cell phones in their first six months of driving
- School bus operators from using cell phones while driving whenever children are present
- All drivers from using handheld devices in school crossing zones
While statewide, handheld cell phone use is still legal, more than 60 cities in the state have also enacted their own laws making it illegal. Austin, for example, has its own law regarding phone use while driving.
In Austin, the law prohibits the use of all electronic handheld devices while operating a vehicle or even a bicycle.
Exceptions to the Distracted Driving Laws in Texas
Of course, there are exceptions to the ban on texting and other distracted driving laws in Texas. The following exceptions to Texas’s distracted driving law apply:
- Drivers under 18 and adults with learner’s permits are permitted to use wireless devices to make an emergency call to:
- An emergency response service
- A hospital
- A fire department
- A health clinic
- A medical doctor’s office
- An individual to administer first aid treatment
- A police department
- Texting is permitted when using voice-to-text hands-free technology
- The use of a GPS or other navigation system is permitted
- Drivers may use their hands to initiate and activate a function on their devices for the purpose of playing music
- The state’s distracted driving laws do not apply to drivers who are operating an authorized emergency vehicle and using their device while acting in an official capacity
Contact The Stewart Law Firm today
Injured by a distracted driver? Call The Stewart Law Firm. Anyone injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver can hold that driver accountable through a personal injury claim. If a distracted or drunk driver kills a person, surviving family members have the same right in the form of a wrongful death action.
Our Austin personal injury law firm helps individuals and families who have been injured or killed due to car accidents caused by drunk or distracted drivers. Contact us to discuss your case today.