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Texas Senate passes texting-while-driving ban

May 19, 2017 - 4:06 pm

(Austin/KJCE) The Texas Senate gave approval Friday afternoon to a statewide ban on texting-while driving, putting the measure one step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 62 passed the Senate by a 23-8 vote on both second and third reading. The ban covers reading or sending electronic messages from a hand-held phone while operating a moving vehicle, and was voted for by all 11 of the Senate's Democrats plus 12 Republicans.

The bill requires a texting violation to either be witnessed by a police officer, or for there to be other corroborating evidence such as weaving or an admission by the driver. A failed amendment to the bill would have required both. The version of the bill approved by the Senate will need a final approval from the House, and then the bill will be off to Governor Abbott for his signature.

The state ban will not apply to GPS, music apps, or reporting of emergencies. Stricter local ordinances that outlaw those activities, such as the City of Austin's, will still apply.

Under the state law, a violation will carry a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense, and $100 to $200 for subsequent offenses.

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