Texting While Driving Ban Possible in Texas

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After numerous attempts over the last decade to legally ban texting while driving in Texas, there is a real possibility that a law to formally institute a statewide ban. Even though the ban is being driven on the state government by families, friends, and organizations that have been impacted by the death of a loved one, there are opponents that have arguments against the ban, as this post will show.

The push for a statewide ban would have been successful in 2011, but the governor at the time, Rick Perry, vetoed the bill and thus prevented the bill from becoming law. After multiple attempts, however, both governmental chambers approved the ban this year, the Texas House of Representatives doing so in March, followed by a set of revisions proposed by the Texas Senate (by allowing for smartphone GPS applications to be used).

Tell Me About the Bill

In the proposed law - currently titled “HB 62” (HB stands for “House Bill”) - drivers who are found using their phones for texting, emailing, or using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., could potentially pay up to a $99 fine for their first offense, followed by a $200 fine for offenses that occur thereafter.

However, HB 62 would only be applied to those using the mentioned phone usages while the car is in motion. Drivers who have their vehicles parked or stationary can still text and use their phones in other ways. Also, HB 62 could not be used for drivers using their phones as a music player.

While the legal matter is relatively new in Texas, there are 46 states that currently have some form of statewide texting while driving ban.

Enforcement Concerns

There have been several concerns that the proposed bill would be too confusing and difficult to enforce. A sample of concerns surrounding HB 62 is:

  • What if the driver was not texting while driving?
  • Can a violation of appear on a driving record?
  • What defines a vehicle as stationery or idle?
  • What will be the fairness of the bill?
  • How would the proposed bill be properly enforced?

These and other concerns have been surrounding texting while driving bills throughout the decade. While HB 62 may appear to be a simple law, there may be greater complications involved with its legality, enforceability, and legitimacy.

HB 62: Government Intervention…or Interference?

A classical approach to dealing with the arguments for- and against- HB 62 lies within two basic political principles: intervention versus interference. The first concept means that the government is coming to action for the benefit of the people and is typically met with positive response from the population, while the latter concept means that the government is entering a sphere where their reach is perhaps not wanted or needed. Similar examples of the issue of government intervention vs. interference lies within business regulations, price controls, and wage statutes.

Using these principles, the question could be asked: is the proposed HB 62 a way for the government to use legal methods to prevent accidents from occurring in the future, or is the government reaching their scope into the personal and daily lives of its population? If passed, will HB 62 be an example of how a government could use its legal abilities for the benefit and safety of its people, or will HB 62 be an unwanted gateway for future restrains on the individual?
Mark A. Anderson
Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas
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