Everything You Need To Know About Texas’ Hands Free Law
As drivers around the country know, driving while distracted can be dangerous. Every year an estimated 3000 people die from car accidents involving distracted drivers, and hundreds of thousands more are injured.
While distractions have always existed, cell phones have made distracted driving a national health concern. To combat the temptation to talk, text, and tweet while driving, various states have passed differing types of legislation.
For example, 22 states have laws that make it illegal to have a phone in your hand while driving. These “hands-free” laws are also on the books in Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and several other territories.
A total of 48 states have laws banning text or tweeting while driving and 37 states have laws that make it illegal to use a phone in any way for certain classes of drivers such as new drivers or school bus drivers.
Because laws differ from state to state, it is important to know what the current rules are in your state.
Below is information on Texas laws pertaining to driving and cell phone use.
Cell Phone and Driving Laws in Texas
The current law in Texas (passed in 2017) does not ban most drivers from talking on their cell phones.
The exceptions to this include:
- New drivers cannot use any handheld device in any way
- School bus drivers cannot use handheld devices when children are on the bus
- No driver can use a handheld device when they are in a school zone
It is important to note, however, that laws can change from city to city within the state of Texas.
The city of Austin, for example, has been hands-free since 2015 and drivers could be fined $500 for using any handheld device while driving.
Texting Laws in Texas
Texting, tweeting, or receiving or sending an electronic message is illegal in Texas and has been since the adoption of the aforementioned 2017 law. Accompanying the current legislation is a comprehensive public awareness campaign designed to highlight the dangers of texting while driving.
If a driver is caught texting while driving, they are subject to a $99 fine for the first offense. All subsequent offenses come with a $200 fine. However, fines can climb as high as $4,000 if the driver was responsible for causing an accident because they were driving while distracted.
Liability and Texting While Driving
If a person causes an accident because they were driving while distracted, they could be held liable by other parties who were injured or suffered damages in some way due to the driver’s negligence. Every driver owes their fellow drivers a duty of care and if they are distracted by their phone while driving they are failing to fulfill that duty.
If you have been injured in a car accident by a distracted driver, a qualified personal injury lawyer could help you seek compensation. Your lawyer will investigate your claims, interview witnesses, obtain police reports, and if necessary examine phone records to determine whether or not the other party’s negligence led to your injuries.
If your lawyer determines that to be the case you could sue the other party for damages that would cover things like:
- Medical bills
- Repairs to your vehicle
- Lost wages and earning potential
While you might feel your case is rock solid, it is wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer as they understand the challenges and obstacles to successful settlements and verdicts. Only with a thorough investigation and competent representation will you have the best chance possible of receiving the money you are due for your injuries.