Is it illegal to text-and-drive in Texas?
It seems like every generation of drivers has their pet peeves. For the 21st century, seeing someone looking at their smartphone and not the road is likely at the top of most peoples’ lists. Even with all of the focus on trying to break bad distracting driving habits today, we still occasionally get asked, ‘Is it illegal to text-and-drive in Texas?’ Well, as of Sept. 1, 2017, yes, it is. It might seem like the Bert Ogden Blog is a little late to the party, but this question comes up so much in the showroom and out in the world, that we thought we’d do our part to try to get accurate information out there to prevent a traffic ticket — or worse.
Important things to know
The distracted driving law that was passed in the State of Texas is a bit different than similar legislation enacted in other states. Drivers are specifically prohibited from ‘reading, writing or sending electronic messages’ with a “wireless communication device.” So quite literally, this law bans texting as well as emails and other forms of text-based mobile messages. Using GPS units is still ok.
However, it is still legal for a driver to speak on their phone while driving without using a hands-free device.
There are also a few major exceptions to the texting-and-drive law in Texas. First, drivers are not allowed to use any hand-held communication devices when they are in a school zone. School bus drivers and licensed drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a wireless device when they’re behind the wheel. This also includes using a hands-free unit.
How much do the fines cost?
If a member of the Texas law enforcement community pulls a driver over for texting-and-driving, they can be punished with a fine costing between $25 and $99 for the first offense. Repeat offenders will see the fines rise to $100-$200. However, if an accident occurs and somebody is killed or injured, the distracted driver can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor which can carry a fine up to $4,000 and/or up to a year in jail.
New Mazda vehicles can be equipped with a wide range of technologies that can help drivers stay within the framework of this law. You can see a full demonstration of this technology by making an appointment with a Bert Ogden Mazda product expert today.