The Texas House on Wednesday tentatively approved a ban on texting while driving.
House bill 80 by state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, passed 102-40. It would make texting while driving a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $99 on the first offense and $200 for additional infractions.
The bill came before Rick Perry in 2011 and he vetoed it.
The bill in part reads, “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.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 459 people died in 2013 as the result of distracted driving.
Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton argued that this gives the police a reason to stop anyone for suspicions of texting. Dutton said supporters of the bill “want to err on the side of giving up liberties.”
According to TxDOT 40 cities in Texas – including Austin, and El Paso – already have texting while driving bans. In addition 44 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.
Arkansas bans texting for all drivers, and bans handheld cell phone use for drivers aged 18-20 and all cell phone use for drivers under 18.