Texting-while-driving ban passes Senate


A texting-while-driving ban, after running into legislative and gubernatorial roadblocks in the past four legislative sessions, cleared the Texas Senate on Friday and appears to be on the way to passage.

House Bill 62, carried in the Senate by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was approved 23-8 on both second and third readings. All 11 Democrats voted for the statewide ban on reading or sending electronic messages from a hand-held phone while piloting a moving vehicle, joined by 12 of the chamber’s 20 Republicans.

“I have waited 10 years to make this motion,” Zaffirini said just before asking for a final Senate vote on the bill. Much of the Senate gathered around her after the vote to give her handshakes and hugs.

The passage occurred after the 19-12 defeat of an amendment, carried by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, that Zaffirini said would have “gutted the bill” and caused its defeat when it returns to the House for a final vote. That amendment would have required that a texting violation be witnessed by a police officer and that there be other corroborating evidence, such as an admission by the driver or weaving.

The bill as passed requires that just one of those occur.

The version approved Friday will need final approval by the House, which approved a similar version of the texting ban in March, and the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott.

A texting-while-driving citation would carry a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense, and $100 to $200 for subsequent offenses.

The law, if Abbott signs it, would not apply to use of a phone for a global positioning system, music apps or to report emergencies. Local ordinances that outlaw other phone use while driving, such as the one in Austin, would still apply.



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