He announced the bill’s signing at a press conference that called for a special session and included a related charge in his speech.
Even though Abbott did sign House Bill 62 into law, he said he wanted lawmakers to go further by passing legislation that would nullify all current local texting-while-driving ordinances currently in place. This would leave Texas with just one piece of legislation that would regulate the practice from a statewide level.
Until Abbott gets his desired piece of legislation passed, Texans will continue to be regulated by individual local ordinances and the new bill that will go into effect Sept. 1. The signed bill will prohibit drivers from texting while driving—including reading, sending or writing a text message—unless the driver is stopped.
First offenses are punishable by a misdemeanor with a fine of at least $25 and at most $99. Subsequent offenses are punishable by fines of no more than $200.
Exceptions are allowed to use GPS, read an emergency message, report illegal activity, summon emergency help, or enter information into a map or traffic application.
If a person texting while driving is responsible for the death or injury of another person, he or she may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and one year in jail.
This is the fourth time a texting-while-driving ban has been attempted in the Texas Legislature. In 2011, a similar bill passed the legislature, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry.
Article and image courtesy of Community Impact