Bill Text: TX SB42 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-11-09 - Filed [SB42 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-SB42-Introduced.html
 
 
  By: Zaffirini S.B. No. 42
 
 
 
   
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the use of a wireless communication device while
  operating a motor vehicle.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  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 punishable by a fine only; or
                     (C)  a violation of the open container law,
  Section 49.031, Penal Code; and
               (2)  the person makes a written promise to appear in
  court as provided by Section 543.005.
         SECTION 2.  The heading to Section 545.4251, Transportation
  Code, is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 545.4251.  USE OF PORTABLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION
  DEVICE WHILE OPERATING MOTOR VEHICLE [FOR ELECTRONIC MESSAGING];
  OFFENSE.
         SECTION 3.  Section 545.4251, Transportation Code, is
  amended by amending Subsections (a), (b), (c), (d), (h), and (j) and
  adding Subsection (c-1) to read as follows:
         (a)  In this section:
               (1)  "Hands-free device" means speakerphone
  capability, 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 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
  with a swipe or tap of the driver's finger. The term includes
  voice-operated technology and a push-to-talk function ["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" means a device
  through which personal wireless services, as defined by 47 U.S.C.
  Section 332(c)(7)(C)(i), are transmitted. The term does not include
  a device that is only a global navigation satellite system receiver
  used for positioning, emergency notification, or navigation
  purposes [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 outside a lane of travel. 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 contact emergency services; or
               (3)  that was mounted in or on the vehicle solely to
  continuously record or broadcast video inside or outside of the
  vehicle [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].
         (c-1)  The affirmative defense in Subsection (c)(1) is not
  available for an offense under Subsection (b) committed by a person
  under 18 years of age or by a person operating a school bus with a
  minor passenger on the bus.
         (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 of a commercial motor vehicle, other
  than a school bus with a minor passenger on the bus, who uses a
  portable wireless communication device while acting in the scope of
  the operator's employment and the use is allowed under federal
  motor carrier safety regulations, as defined by Section 644.001 [an
  operator who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission
  while operating a radio frequency device other than a portable
  wireless communication device].
         (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.
         (j)  This section preempts all local ordinances, rules, or
  other regulations adopted by a local authority [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 4.  Section 708.052(e-1), Transportation Code, is
  amended 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 5.  Sections 545.424(a), (b), (f), and (g), 545.425,
  and 545.4252, Transportation Code, are repealed.
         SECTION 6.  The changes in law made by this Act 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 7.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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