AUSTIN - Here is a quick roundup of some of the bills recently passed during the 85th Texas Legislature this year. Most of these new Texas laws go into effect on Sept. 1, 2017, but some have already gone into effect.
House Bill 62, which will take effect on September 1st, 2017, will prohibit drivers on public roads from using a wireless communication device (i.e., a cell phone) to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.
Texting and driving in Texas will be punishable by a fine of $25-$99, which raises to $100-$200 for any subsequent offenses. This new law will preempt all “texting and driving” ordinances previously passed by cities, but does not preempt city ordinances which go beyond texting while driving (i.e., hands-free ordinances).
The law also states that if a car accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, the offender can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year.
Gov. Abbott asked lawmakers to pass broader legislation during this year’s special session which would roll back any city ordinances that banned mobile phone use beyond texting while driving, potentially nullifying existing hands-free ordinances in at least 45 Texas cities. While this legislation was initially passed by the full chamber, no vote was taken on this particular measure before the special session concluded on August 15th, 2017.