FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2017
(AUSTIN) — The Texas Senate today approved a statewide ban on texting while driving, passing House Bill (HB) 62, the Alex Brown Memorial Act, by Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and sponsored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who also authored its Senate companion legislation, Senate Bill 31.
"I am grateful to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for bringing this important bipartisan bill for a vote in the Senate and to all my colleagues who supported it or worked to improve it," Senator Zaffirini said. "What's more, we would not have been successful without the backing of the countless Texas families who called their legislators, wrote letters and provided compelling testimony."
She said Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, Chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, was instrumental to its passage.
HB 62 would prohibit the use of a portable wireless communication device to read, write or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped.
The bill would make texting while driving a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of at least $25 but not more than $99 for a first offense, and at least $100 but not more than $200 for subsequent offenses. What's more, it would create an enhanced penalty if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant caused the death or serious bodily injury of another person.
The bill would not prohibit the use of a cell phone for GPS, playing music or dialing and making a phone call. It would not prohibit emergency authorities or law enforcement from using a wireless communication device, nor would it prohibit a driver from using one to report an emergency or a crime.
Senator Zaffirini has championed anti-texting while driving legislation since 2009, filing it for five consecutive legislative sessions.
"Many bills don't pass until the second or third try, but persistence is key," Senator Zaffirini said. "Awareness of the dangers of texting while driving has been growing, and an April poll found that 90 percent of Texans support a statewide prohibition. Accordingly, it is time for Texas to join the 46 other states that already have banned this deadly habit."
SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo has championed legislation prohibiting texting while driving for five consecutive legislative sessions.