At least nine people are killed every day—with thousands more injured—in car accidents where the driver is distracted.

In 2015, alone, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents.That’s over 3,000 daily work commutes, road trips, and other family outings that ended in tragedy.

One of the main distractions that can be attributed to these statistics is texting and driving.

In order to address this growing epidemic, Texas legislators recently passed House Bill 62. This bill bans texting while driving statewide in an attempt to curb distracted driving car accidents from occurring on Texas roads.

The Brownsville lawyers at Law Office of Attorney Ignacio G. Martinez want to protect drivers and those who have been injured in car accidents. We believe it is our duty to keep you informed about new traffic laws and to provide sound advice to prevent future accidents.

In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. #CDC #LawOfficeofMartinez Click To Tweet

How Texas HB 62 Works

Although it may seem as a task that is hard to enforce, police have been directed to pull drivers over that are in the wrong.

Defining what “in the wrong” means can be a little challenging but police officers will have some guidelines to follow.

Mainly, police will target drivers whose heads are down as if reading a message or those who are swerving.

The law also prohibits school bus drivers from texting and driving completely, while discouraging hands-free device usage as well. The same applies to teenage drivers younger than 18 years of age.

Those caught not following HB 62 face costly consequences.

What Are The Consequences?

The bill seeks to punish those that are convicted of texting and driving by charging up to $99 for first-time offenders.

Repeat offenders can be charged up to $200 in penalties.

If by chance there is a car accident that results in the death or serious bodily injury of someone, this can lead to a Class A Misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $4,000 and jail time not to exceed one year, on top of any other charges that may be applicable.

This law came into effect on September 1, however, it wasn’t the first piece of texting and driving legislation that existed in the state of Texas.

#BreakingTheBank: 1st-time offenders can be fined up to $99. Repeat offenders up to $200 Click To Tweet

Local Ordinances Helps Enforce Hands-Free Practices

Many cities around Texas have adopted and implemented ordinances that mimic the new law before it came into effect.

Austin, and even smaller cities like San Benito, have been hands-free zones for some time now, with fines up to $500 if caught and convicted.

Within San Antonio city limits, citizens cannot hold the phone while behind the wheel. They may, however, use their hand to answer and disconnect calls but may not hold the phone while talking.

However, this new bill preempts any local ordinances or laws and Texans pulled over cannot be fined twice for the same crime.

At 55MPH, taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds is long enough to cover a football field. #CD Click To Tweet

Exceptions To The Rule

The state law doesn’t completely forbid the handling of cell phones:

  • Calling 911 – The law allows cell phone users to make calls to emergency services like 911 to report car accidents.
  • Using GPS or Music Apps – In most cities it is still legal to use GPS or music apps, even dialing numbers, but drivers can still be pulled over if the officer suspects them of texting.
  • At a Stop Light – The law also makes it clear that while it doesn’t support reading, writing, or sending text messages while cell phone users are driving, it is not a violation to look at your phone if you are at a stop light. At that time, you aren’t “operating a vehicle,” but caution still must be taken. Messaging on your phone at a red light can cause car accidents as some drivers may not notice the light turning green. As soon as you begin to move, however, the cell phone must be out of your hands, or police can still pull you over. It also depends if your city ordinance, if it has one, allows you to handle a phone at a stop light.

The sad truth, however, is that mistakes and accidents happen every day. When they do, you can count on the Brownsville lawyers of the Law Office of Attorney Ignacio G. Martinez to represent you in court.

#Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related #fatal #crashes. #CDC Click To Tweet

Have You Or A Loved One Suffered A Car Accident Resulting From Someone Texting And Driving? Call The Law Office of Attorney Ignacio G. Martinez At (956) 542-2264 Today!

The Law Office of Attorney Ignacio G. Martinez in Brownsville, Texas excels in representing those who cannot speak for themselves. We provide legal services for victims of accidents and personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence – like texting and driving.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a car accident caused by a driver that was texting and driving, contact us today at (956) 542-2264.