Texas House Approves Ban on Texting While Driving
If a new Texas bill passes through the state Senate, it will be illegal to text while driving in the Lone Star State.
Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, proposed House Bill 80, which makes texting while driving in Texas a misdemeanor. The bill was tentatively approved by a vote of 102-40. If it gets final approval it will head to the Senate.
If approved by the Senate, the bill would head to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk for signature. Former Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill in 2011.
Punishment for first-time offenders would be a $99 fine, and a $200 fine for second-timers.
Six amendments were added to the bill, including one that allows drivers to text if they are completely stopped. Other amendments include one that allows cities to still pass their own ordinances and another that states that simply looking at a phone is not prohibited.
"The main thing we need to say is, it is a safety issue in this state — driving is not a privilege," Craddick, the former House speaker, told lawmakers on Wednesday. "It's our responsibility as legislators to put forth the tools that the [Department of Public Safety] and other police officers in this state need to make it safe on our highways and streets."
The bill has received plenty of pushback. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, said it leaves the opportunity open for anyone to be pulled over because an officer may believe they are texting.
Austin, El Paso and San Antonio have already banned texting while driving. Forty-four states have outlawed it completely.
What do you think? Should texting and driving be completely illegal in Texas? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.