Texas Distracted Driving Laws
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for novice drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Texas has banned the use of handheld phones and texting in school zones.
Texas Texting While Driving Stand
On June 17, 2011, the HB 242 bill came across Texas Governor Perry’s desk. Perry vetoed the bill, and there most likely will not be any statewide legislation with regards to texting and driving until 2014. Perry was, at the time, campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination. He indicated that the bill amounted to governmental micromanagement of the behavior of adults to justify the veto. Had the law been passed, the law would have gone into effect on September 1, 2011. Perry explained that limiting texting and driving in Texas was more an issue of education and information.
Other texting and driving legislation has been enacted in the state of Texas. Around 12 bills were considered by the Texas state government during 2011. A few were passed into law. However, the full Texas legislature does not return until 2013. Therefore, additional texting and driving laws would most likely not go into effect until the year 2014.
Two Texas laws addressing distracted driving were signed into law during 2011. One law prohibits teens from using cellular devices, even with hands-free attachments, for talking and texting while behind the wheel, and the other prohibits the use of handheld cellular devices in school zones. Parents and other adults may still utilize hands-free devices to talk on cellular devices when in a school zone in Texas. Other localities have put additional prohibitions into place with regards to texting and driving, however.
Statewide Texas legislation that limits drivers’ use of cellular devices due to the potential of distracted driving currently include:
All drivers are prohibited from using handheld cellular devices in the roadways where areas are marked as school crossing zones.
School bus drivers may not use cellular devices while driving when children are on the bus.
New drivers with Learners Permits may not use handheld cellular devices during the first six months of driving.
Drivers under 18 years old may not use any wireless devices when behind the wheel on Texas roads.
Texas cities that now have additional distracted driving legislation include:
- San Antonio
- El Paso
- Missouri City
Texting and driving is prohibited within the city limits of San Antonio. Recently, a school bus driver was fired for texting while students were on the bus.
The City of Amarillo currently bans texting while driving in marked school zones. Fines and fees for the first offense are approximately $158.
Amarillo is currently in the process of bringing a law to prohibit texting and driving within the city limits to the people. The city’s traffic committee posted a unanimous vote in January, 2012 to ban texting and driving within the city limits. The full City Council heard and debated the plan on February 7, 2012. Public hearings have been scheduled over the next few months.
Nacogdoches enacted a law that prohibits using electronic devices to send text messages and emails while driving. The law went into effect in late 2011.
Odessa City Council’s proposed texting and a driving ban was rejected when no second to the motion to put the ban to a vote was provided by any council member.
Arlington City Council approved a texting and driving ban, with a final vote in September 2011. Fines for the offense would be approximately $200.
Amarillo City Council voted into law the ban on texting and driving in school zones and the law went into effect at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.
2010 City Council Legislation
El Paso City Council enacted a law prohibiting texting or talking on a cellular device on March 9, 2010. As of the one-year anniversary of the law going into effect, 6.435 tickets had been issued. Hands-free devices are still allowed while driving in El Paso. El Paso also prohibits the use of cellular devices in school zones.
McAllen prohibits the use of cellular devices for Internet-related activities, as well as texting while driving. The law received a unanimous vote on January 24, 2011.
The City of Alvin had outlawed texting and driving through school zones several years prior. However, the enforcement of the law did not begin until 2011 because of the lack of signs and posted warnings.
The City of Dallas has enacted a cell phone ban in school zones as of February 2008. The first infraction costs the driver approximately $200.
San Antonio banned texting and driving in 2009. However, the ban did not take effect until January 2011, due to a 90-day warning period. Fines for the first infraction are approximately $200.
Missouri City enacted a law prohibiting texting and driving in 2009, but the ban did not go into effect until June of 2011. This law even applies to vehicles stopped in areas where “No Texts, Emails or Apps While Driving” signs are posted. Fines may cost the driver up to $500.
The City of Galveston banned texting while driving in 2009 and the law went into effect in early 2010. In Galveston, violators may pay up to $500 for the first offense.
In 2010, Stephenville outlawed texting while driving and considered a move to prohibit cell phone use entirely while driving during that time. However, the talking on a cellular device portion of the bill was rejected. The texting while driving portion went into effect on April 6, 2010. First offense fines are approximately $200.
The City of Austin approved a ban on texting and driving in October of 2009, and then in December of the same year, broadened the law to include Internet surfing on any other mobile device, including iPhones, as well. The law went into effect on January 1 of 2010.
In Burnett, the use of cellular phones, as well as texting, is prohibited in school zones. The law was approved in October of 2009. Dallas was one of the first Texas cities to outlaw the use of cell phones in school zones. The law was approved in February of 2008.