Governor signs statewide texting-while-driving ban into law

FILE - Woman driving in Austin while on her cellphone. (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Woman driving in Austin while on her cellphone. (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting on Sept. 1, Texas will no longer be one of the four states in the country without a texting-while-driving ban.

Gov. Greg Abbott, during his announcement of a special legislative session this summer, broke the news that he signed House Bill 62 into law Tuesday morning.

The ban passed the Texas Senate on May 19 in a 23-8 vote, after the Texas House cleared the bill in an 111-62 vote back in March.

The bill was authored by State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and State Sen. Judith Zaffrini, D-Laredo. Craddick said in a statement the governor is saving lives by deterring dangerous and deadly behavior.

“For a long time, Texas has needed this law to prevent the loss of life in unnecessary and preventable crashes and we finally have it,” Craddick continued. “This delivers a strong message to Texas drivers to stop texting, put down their phone, and keep their eyes on the road. Like AT&T says: It can wait.”

This was the fourth time Texas lawmakers had tried to pass a texting-while-driving ban statewide.

Gov. Abbott, dissatisfied with the law as currently written, said he wants the measure to override city ordinances so there isn’t a “patchwork quilt” of distracted driving laws across the state. If legislators do not get to it during the special session, the ban as it is currently written will still move forward and become law in September.

A texting-while-driving offense would be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99, unless the driver had previously been convicted. In that case, the driver faces a fine of at least $100 and up to $200.

Read the full bill on the state of Texas’ website. 

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