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Do you understand the new texting while driving law?

As a Texas resident, you probably are aware that a new law went into effect on September 1. As reported by the Star-Telegram, on that date Texas joined 46 other states in banning texting while driving. You still have the right to use your cellphone to talk hands-free, as well as to use it to seek emergency help, report a crime, operate a GPS or play music.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted drivers, including those texting while driving, killed 3,477 people in 2015 and injured 391,000 others nationwide. In 2016, distracted drivers caused 455 fatalities and over 300 serious injuries in Texas.

The new Texas law

Should you fail to heed the new Texas law, you could get a ticket, be charged with a misdemeanor, and pay a fine of from $25 to $99. If you are a repeat offender, your fine could be as high as $200. If your texting while driving causes an accident that results in serious injury or death, your fine could be as high as $4,000 and you also face up to one year of jail time.

Should a law enforcement officer pull you over on a routine traffic stop, he or she is not allowed to inspect your cellphone. However, if you go to court to dispute your ticket, the prosecutor has the right to subpoena your texting record to prove that you were in fact texting when the officer pulled you over.

If you are convicted of texting while driving, this does not add points to your driver’s license. Texas assesses points only for moving violation convictions and texting while driving is not considered to be a moving violation.

If you are a parent worried about your teen drivers obeying the new law, there are apps and other devices available that can shut down a cellphone while someone is behind the wheel. Some of them are as follows:

  • Cellcontrol
  • Do Not Disturb While Driving
  • DriveSafeMode
  • Lifesaver
  • Surete

This information is intended only to educate. It should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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