Any distraction while driving is dangerous. However, our dependence on cell phones means that they can often demand our attention a little too much while we’re on the road. While cell phones make it easier for you to have everything you need on hand, they’re one of the leading causes of car accidents globally. Using your GPS while driving or connecting to work calls while stuck in traffic may be convenient, but is it legal? The answer to that question depends on which state you’re currently in. This article will take a look at cell phone laws in Texas and whether it is a hands-free state.
Texas Cell Phone Law 2023
The state of Texas has several different regulations regarding the use of mobile devices while behind the wheel. Let’s examine what they entail.
What Is the Cell Phone Law in Texas?
To answer the question if Texas is a hands-free state, the answer is no. Cell phone use while driving is permitted, but it’s not a black and white issue. There are varying circumstances regarding responsible cell phone while in a vehicle — including where, when and with whom.
Is Talking on the Phone While Driving Illegal in Texas?
As of 2017, it is legal to talk on the phone while driving in the state of Texas — either by holding the device or using hands-free technology. However, there are limitations to this. Firstly, this rule does not apply to new drivers, those under the age of 18, and those with a learner’s permit. This includes any use of a cell phone, including hands-free technology. Secondly, no driver can use a phone or any other handheld device when they are in a school zone. Lastly, school bus drivers are not allowed to talk on their phones if there are children on the bus. There are concessions in terms of emergency situations where help is needed, but you must pull over before doing so.
This is the standard rule in Texas when it comes to using a cell phone behind the wheel, but the matter is further complicated by the fact that there is some variation between cities within the state. Leaving town? It’s best to look up the laws surrounding cell phone use in cars for all of the destinations you’re passing through.
Is It Illegal to Text and Drive in Texas?
If you’re thinking about firing off an SMS when you’re behind the wheel, don’t do it — Texas cell phone laws completely ban texting when driving. In fact, the law covers more than just texting — emailing and social media use while driving are also illegal in Texas and 47 other states in the United States. Much like the risks with texting and driving, engaging in any activity on your devices while you’re operating a car is a dangerous game.
In addition, most people forget that texting at a red light is still illegal in Texas. Even though you are not driving, you are still technically in control of the vehicle. Wait until you reach your destination to check your phone.
What About Other Apps?
Texas law still allows you to answer calls, use your GPS, and play music from your cell phone while driving. It does not matter whether it is hands-free or not. However, you should always make use of these apps responsibly and understand that they are a distraction from driving. Using hands-free technology, like Bluetooth, is a safer option than fiddling with your phone while on the road.
How Much Is a Cell Phone Ticket in Texas?
Being caught texting and driving by an officer will result in an immediate fine. Whether or not you are a first-time offender determines the amount of the fine. A first-time offender can expect to pay about $99 in fines. Repeat offenders will receive fines ranging from $100-$200.
It’s worth noting that these fines can reach much higher amounts if you cause an accident while driving. This is in addition to the possible compensation that you owe other drivers involved in the accident you are liable for. You will need to secure the services of an experienced texting and driving accident lawyer to help you.
Why is texting and driving illegal in Texas?
Texting and driving is not just illegal in Texas — it’s illegal in most of the United States. In general, using a cell phone while driving diverts your attention from the road. This means that you are not looking at the road to identify any obstructions, and one or both hands are not on the car's steering wheel. You’re voluntarily putting yourself into a position that will make it difficult to react in time to any occurrence on the road. Current stats indicate that 1 in 5 accidents in Texas results from cell phone distractions.
Will I be compensated if I get hit by a driver who was texting?
In the event that a distracted driver caused your collision, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you'll need to provide evidence that the other driver was distracted by their phone. If you do not have solid proof upfront, you can hire a lawyer to assist with your claim. They will help you collect police records, eyewitness accounts, and phone records if necessary. It is always best to keep a record of everything that happens from the time of the accident, including any medical bills.
Getting Help After a Texting While Driving Accident
Cell phone usage while driving is always dangerous. Current Texas cell phone laws state that texting while driving is illegal across the state. However, using a cell phone to send or receive calls is legal as long as you are not under 18 years of age, have a learner’s permit for less than six months, are in a school zone, or are a school bus driver with children on the bus.
If you are in an accident because of cell phone usage, it is best to hire a Dallas car accident lawyer with the knowledge and experience to help you. The team at Reyes Brown Reilly has more than three decades of experience with cases just like yours, ranging from simple prangs to catastrophic accidents. Contact our team today for free advice on your situation or a no-obligation quote for our five-star services.