New Driving Laws Effective Sunday September 1
- Increase penalties for serious hit and run accidents.
Effective Sunday, the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death is the same as that for intoxication manslaughter: Two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Police hope the tougher penalties will remind drivers that helping the injured in the minutes after an accident can prove critical.
- Phones near Schools
Texas already prohibited cellphone use behind the wheel in active school zones, unless the vehicle is stopped or the driver is using a hands-free device. Lawmakers extended the ban to all school property, including parking lots and dropoff lanes. Violators face fines of up to $200. There are still exceptions for stopped vehicles and hands-free devices. And the law doesn't apply to emergency calls. Officials hope the new law will help curb distracted student drivers as well as parents picking up or dropping off kids.
- Passing School Buses
Lawmakers increased the fine for passing a school bus when its flashing lights and stop signs are active. The penalty used to be $200 to $1,000. The new range is $500 to $1,250. The bump came after research by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services showed that many drivers were disregarding rules against passing stopped school buses.
- Slowdown around TxDOT vehicle
The new law requires drivers to move out of the lane closest to the TxDOT crew or slow to 20 mph below the speed limit. On roads where the limit is 25 mph or lower, drivers must slow to 5 mph. Violators can be fined up to $2,000.
+++ Just a reminder that DPS will be out at high risk locations checking for Drinking While Intoxicated so get a designated driver if you need one.