This website will be unavailable from Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, June 3, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

 
 
  By: Craddick, et al. (Senate Sponsor - Zaffirini) H.B. No. 62
         (In the Senate - Received from the House March 20, 2017;
  May 9, 2017, read first time and referred to Committee on State
  Affairs; May 17, 2017, reported adversely, with favorable
  Committee Substitute by the following vote:  Yeas 5, Nays 1;
  May 17, 2017, sent to printer.)
Click here to see the committee vote
 
  COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR H.B. No. 62 By:  Zaffirini
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
 
  relating to the use of a wireless communication device while
  operating a motor vehicle; creating a criminal offense; modifying
  existing criminal penalties.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  This Act may be cited as the Alex Brown Memorial
  Act.
         SECTION 2.  Sections 521.161(b) and (c), Transportation
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (b)  The examination must include:
               (1)  a test of the applicant's:
                     (A)  vision;
                     (B)  ability to identify and understand highway
  signs in English that regulate, warn, or direct traffic;
                     (C)  knowledge of the traffic laws of this state;
  [and]
                     (D)  knowledge of motorists' rights and
  responsibilities in relation to bicyclists; and
                     (E)  knowledge of the effect of using a wireless
  communication device, or engaging in other actions that may
  distract a driver, on the safe or effective operation of a motor
  vehicle;
               (2)  a demonstration of the applicant's ability to
  exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a
  motor vehicle of the type that the applicant will be licensed to
  operate; and
               (3)  any additional examination the department finds
  necessary to determine the applicant's fitness to operate a motor
  vehicle safely.
         (c)  The department shall give each applicant the option of
  taking the parts of the examination under Subsections (b)(1)(B),
  (C), [and] (D), and (E) in writing in addition to or instead of
  through a mechanical, electronic, or other testing method.  If the
  applicant takes that part of the examination in writing in addition
  to another testing method, the applicant is considered to have
  passed that part of the examination if the applicant passes either
  version of the examination.  The department shall inform each
  person taking the examination of the person's rights under this
  subsection.
         SECTION 3.  Section 543.004(a), Transportation Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  An officer shall issue a written notice to appear if:
               (1)  the offense charged is:
                     (A)  speeding;
                     (B)  the use of a wireless communication device
  under Section 545.4251; or
                     (C)  a violation of the open container law,
  Section 49.031 [49.03], Penal Code; and
               (2)  the person makes a written promise to appear in
  court as provided by Section 543.005.
         SECTION 4.  Section 545.424, Transportation Code, is amended
  by amending Subsections (a), (b), and (c) and adding Subsection (g)
  to read as follows:
         (a)  A person under 18 years of age may not operate a motor
  vehicle while using a wireless communication [communications]
  device, except in case of emergency.  This subsection does not apply
  to a person licensed by the Federal Communications Commission while
  operating a radio frequency device other than a wireless
  communication device.
         (b)  A person under 17 years of age who holds a restricted
  motorcycle license or moped license may not operate a motorcycle or
  moped while using a wireless communication [communications]
  device, except in case of emergency.  This subsection does not apply
  to a person licensed by the Federal Communications Commission while
  operating a radio frequency device other than a wireless
  communication device.
         (c)  Subsection (a-1) [This section] does not apply to[:
               [(1)]  a person operating a motor vehicle while
  accompanied in the manner required by Section 521.222(d)(2) for the
  holder of an instruction permit[; or
               [(2)     a person licensed by the Federal Communications
  Commission to operate a wireless communication device or a radio
  frequency device].
         (g)  An offense under Subsection (a) or (b) is a misdemeanor
  punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
  is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
  previously convicted at least one time of an offense under either
  subsection, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
  least $100 and not more than $200.
         SECTION 5.  The heading to Section 545.425, Transportation
  Code, is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 545.425.  USE OF WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE IN A
  SCHOOL CROSSING ZONE OR WHILE OPERATING A SCHOOL BUS WITH A MINOR
  PASSENGER; POLITICAL SUBDIVISION SIGN REQUIREMENTS; OFFENSE.
         SECTION 6.  Section 545.425(a)(1), Transportation Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
               (1)  "Hands-free device" means speakerphone
  capability, [or] a telephone attachment, or another function or
  other piece of equipment, regardless of whether permanently
  installed in or on a wireless communication device or in a [the]
  motor vehicle, that allows use of the wireless communication device
  without use of either of the operator's hands, except to activate or
  deactivate a function of the wireless communication device or
  hands-free device.  The term includes voice-operated technology and
  a push-to-talk function.
         SECTION 7.  Section 545.425(b-2), Transportation Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         (b-2)  A municipality, county, or other political
  subdivision that by ordinance or rule prohibits the use of a
  wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle,
  including a prohibition that contains an exception for the use of a
  wireless communication device with a hands-free device, throughout
  the jurisdiction of the political subdivision is not required to
  post a sign as required by Subsection (b-1) and shall [if the
  political subdivision]:
               (1)  post [posts] signs that are located at each point
  at which a state highway, U.S. highway, or interstate highway
  enters the political subdivision and that state:
                     (A)  that an operator is prohibited from using a
  wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle in
  the political subdivision, and whether use of a wireless
  communication device with a hands-free device is allowed in the
  political subdivision; and
                     (B)  that the operator is subject to a fine if the
  operator uses a wireless communication device while operating a
  motor vehicle in the political subdivision; and
               (2)  subject to all applicable United States Department
  of Transportation Federal Highway Administration rules, post
  [posts] a message that complies with Subdivision (1) on any dynamic
  message sign operated by the political subdivision located on a
  state highway, U.S. highway, or interstate highway in the political
  subdivision.
         SECTION 8.  Subchapter I, Chapter 545, Transportation Code,
  is amended by adding Section 545.4251 to read as follows:
         Sec. 545.4251.  USE OF PORTABLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION
  DEVICE FOR ELECTRONIC MESSAGING; OFFENSE.  (a)  In this section:
               (1)  "Electronic message" means data that is read from
  or entered into a wireless communication device for the purpose of
  communicating with another person.
               (2)  "Wireless communication device" has the meaning
  assigned by Section 545.425.
         (b)  An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a
  portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an
  electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the
  vehicle is stopped. To be prosecuted, the behavior must be
  committed in the presence of or within the view of a peace officer
  or established by other evidence.
         (c)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an
  offense under this section that the operator used a portable
  wireless communication device:
               (1)  in conjunction with a hands-free device, as
  defined by Section 545.425;
               (2)  to navigate using a global positioning system or
  navigation system;
               (3)  to report illegal activity, summon emergency help,
  or enter information into a software application that provides
  information relating to traffic and road conditions to users of the
  application; 
               (4)  to read an electronic message that the person
  reasonably believed concerned an emergency;
               (5)  that was permanently or temporarily affixed to the
  vehicle to relay information in the course of the operator's
  occupational duties between the operator and:
                     (A)  a dispatcher; or
                     (B)  a digital network or software application
  service; or
               (6)  to activate a function that plays music.
         (d)  Subsection (b) does not apply to:
               (1)  an operator of an authorized emergency or law
  enforcement vehicle using a portable wireless communication device
  while acting in an official capacity; or
               (2)  an operator who is licensed by the Federal
  Communications Commission while operating a radio frequency device
  other than a portable wireless communication device.
         (e)  An offense under this section is a misdemeanor
  punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
  is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
  previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this
  section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
  least $100 and not more than $200.
         (f)  Notwithstanding Subsection (e), an offense under this
  section is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed
  $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year if
  it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant caused
  the death or serious bodily injury of another person.
         (g)  If conduct constituting an offense under this section
  also constitutes an offense under any other law, the person may be
  prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
         (h)  The Texas Department of Transportation shall post a sign
  at each point at which an interstate highway or United States
  highway enters this state that informs an operator that:
               (1)  the use of a portable wireless communication
  device for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle is
  prohibited in this state; and
               (2)  the operator is subject to a fine if the operator
  uses a portable wireless communication device for electronic
  messaging while operating a motor vehicle in this state.
         (i)  A peace officer who stops a motor vehicle for an alleged
  violation of this section may not take possession of or otherwise
  inspect a portable wireless communication device in the possession
  of the operator unless authorized by the Code of Criminal
  Procedure, the Penal Code, or other law.
         (j)  This section preempts all local ordinances, rules, or
  other regulations adopted by a political subdivision relating to
  the use of a portable wireless communication device by the operator
  of a motor vehicle to read, write, or send an electronic message.
         SECTION 9.  Section 708.052, Transportation Code, is amended
  by adding Subsection (e-1) to read as follows:
         (e-1)  Notwithstanding Subsection (b), the department may
  not assign points to a person's license if the offense of which the
  person was convicted is the offense of using a portable wireless
  communication device for electronic messaging as described by
  Section 545.4251.
         SECTION 10.  The changes in law made by this Act to Section
  543.004 and Chapter 545, Transportation Code, apply only to an
  offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.  An
  offense committed before the effective date of this Act is governed
  by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed, and the
  former law is continued in effect for that purpose.  For purposes of
  this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of
  this Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.
         SECTION 11.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.
 
  * * * * *