San Marcos votes to implement hands-free ordinance

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Another Central Texas is banning the use of cellphones while driving. Beginning Feb. 1, 2016, San Marcos will start enforcing hands-free driving.

The San Marcos City Council passed the hands-free ordinance on Tuesday. While the enforcement starts in February, police will allow for a one-month grace period where violators will only be issued a warning. Officers will begin issuing citations March 1.

The new law allows drivers to use handheld devices when a vehicle is at a complete stop or when a device is being used to contact emergency responders or police.

The new law prohibits:

  • Dialing, hanging up, or engaging in a telephone conversation;
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting electronic images;
  • Using email;
  • Using GPS or other navigation applications;
  • Browsing the Internet;
  • Playing games
  • Typing, reading, or sending text messages

Making telephone calls using hands-free functions is allowed, as is using GPS and navigation devices that are attached to the vehicle.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of up to $100 for a first offense; up to $250 for a second offense; and up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

Once San Marcos becomes hands-free, the drive between Austin and San Antonio along IH-35 will basically go through cities that all have hands-free ordinances in place. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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