Should Texting While Driving Be Illegal?

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

It doesn’t take much more than a quick glance at the Texas Transportation Code to notice that our legislature is fixated on making laws to address every conceivable scenario that could occur on our roadways. Although the idea of outlawing texting while driving has been kicked around a bit, the subject still eludes the Transportation Code. This won’t be the case forever.

Operating a motor vehicle without committing a traffic violation requires a certain amount of concentration. There’s no doubt that a person who is texting while driving will inevitably commit an infraction in some way or another. The fact that the inevitable infraction will be one which places people in serious danger is what makes it likely that the legislature will soon outlaw this activity.

Current Laws Indicate Texting While Driving Will be Outlawed

Two current provisions of the Texas statutes support the theory that the legislature will ultimately prohibit texting while driving. The first provision is Transportation Code Section 545.425 which was passed in 2005. This statute prohibits the use of a cell phone while driving through a school crossing zone. Enacting this statute demonstrates both that the legislature has a general distaste for cell phone usage by motorists and that in certain circumstances it will not be tolerated.

The second provision has been on the books for quite some time: Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code – Driving While Intoxicated. The Texas DWI statute makes it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated (simple enough, right?). The significance of this statute is in the definition of “intoxicated.” Intoxication is defined as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol . . .” It is the conscious decision to operate a motor vehicle after causing yourself to lose either mental or physical faculties which is the behavior being regulated with the DWI laws. Being that very few, if any, motorists are able to maintain their mental or physical faculties while texting, it becomes easier to see why texting drivers may soon be punished much in the same way as intoxicated drivers.

How Would the State be Able to Prove it?

A recent discussion with a Texas State Trooper shed some light on one reason why the legislature has yet to enact a law prohibiting texting while driving. Proving an offense may simply be too difficult. In this day of having advanced technology in the palm of your hand, there are a number of things which may resemble texting that in fact are not. The State would have to disprove that the thing an officer witnessed being manipulated was not an MP3 player, GPS unit, or some other piece of electronic equipment. Unlike an intoxicated driver, a texting driver doesn’t appear as such when an officer pulls him from the vehicle. Almost all texting while driving arrests would ultimately become a “his word against mine” type of case.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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