The Texas Senate on May 19 passed a measure banning texting while driving statewide.
HB 62 by Midland Rep. Tom Craddick previously was approved by the House. While more than 100 cities in the state have texting and driving bans Texas is one of the few that does not currently have a statewide law making that practice illegal.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has been pushing for a texting while driving ban for 10 years.
Under HB 62 drivers who are caught using a phone to text, send email or post to social media while driving would face a fine of up to $99 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses.
The bill only penalizes texting while driving a moving car; drivers in an idle or parked car could still use their phones to send texts. The ban would not apply to using one’s phone as a GPS or music device.
Some lawmakers worry the ban would be difficult and too confusing to enforce and would give police new powers to pull over people who might be doing something legal if they mistake the presence of a phone or mobile device for texting. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, noted that other potentially dangerous distractions would not be banned.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill that passed the legislature in 2011.
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