The Campaign For DA

3.10.2015

The No Texting While Driving In Texas Bill Just Got Voted Out Of Committee

The relevant part of House Bill 80 (emphasis added):

(b)  An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a  portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the  vehicle is stopped and is outside a lane of travel.
 (c)  It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that  the operator used a portable wireless communication device:
              (1)  to read, select, or enter a telephone number or
  name for the purpose of making a telephone call;
              (2)  in conjunction with voice-operated technology, a
  push-to-talk function, or a hands-free device, as defined by
  Section 545.425;
              (3)  to navigate using a global positioning system or
  navigation service;
              (4)  to report illegal activity or summon emergency
  help;
              (5)  to read a text-based communication that the person
  reasonably believed concerned an emergency; or
              (6)  that was affixed to the vehicle to relay
  information between the operator and a dispatcher in the course of
  the operator's occupational duties.

How unenforceable is that? Hey, be a cop right now. Is this guy breaking the proposed new law?


The scary part is that police can stop and detain you if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that you are breaking the law. Do you suspect he is breaking the above law? Is it reasonable to do so?

Edit: It never ceases to amaze me. I write a post about the text of the law and the difficulties in enforcing it and there are immediately a couple of goofballs who interpret the post to mean I must be in favor of whatever it is the law is trying to prevent. How is it possible to come to that conclusion?

Edit for extreme legal nerds: Got called out by a legal genius who pointed out that the noted exceptions in subsection "(c)" are "defense[s]". Great point and incredibly complicated. At a trial, the defense just has to put on some evidence of one of those defenses and then the prosecutor has to refute it with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. How that factors into whether the cops can completely discount them in determining a reasonable suspicious is a great legal issue that I've never seen resolved in any other context. Love stuff like this. Could get lost in it every day.