Valley Law Enforcement Preparing for Texting While Driving Ban
PROGRESO – Gov. Greg Abbott signed the texting while driving bill into law on Tuesday.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Craddick, claims the bill will save lives.
“I’m usually for less government. But like seatbelts, sometimes you just have to do it to get things to stop,” said Craddick.
South Texas College student Corina Zamora agrees the public will benefit from the legislation.
“Something like that would really benefit the Valley,” Zamora told CHANNEL 5 NEWS. “I know that there’s a lot of preventable accidents that take place.”
The law bans sending or receiving messages of any sort while the car is in motion. The law is written to include social media posts as well.
Drivers can send and receive messages if the car is stopped.
The use of a phone for navigation or music services is not being done away within the legislation.
Progreso Police Chief David Hernandez said law enforcement officers must decide if drivers are in violation of the law or not.
“That would be the officer’s discretion. And the officer can issue out a citation or a warning,” he said.
Drivers found guilty face a misdemeanor and fines ranging from $25 to $99 for the first offense.
The U.S. Supreme Court mandates officers cannot take the person's phone to determine what the driver was doing before a traffic stop.
Progreso is one of 104 cities in the State of Texas with a city ordinance regulating texting while driving.
“The city ordinance states that while the school zone lights are on, or the school zone is in effect, you will not use your cell phone,” said Hernandez. “If you are caught then you will be issued a citation.”
Rep. Craddick said the city ordinances will remain intact.
“None of that’s affected. Just the statewide texting ban is what this bill does,” he said.
The law takes effect on Sept.1.