Confusing Texas Cell Phone Laws
In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a veto against Texas House Bill 242, which would have banned texting while driving. Perry said supported measures that make Texas roads safer for everyone. But he refused to “micromanage the behavior of adults“.
This have made the map of legal and illegal cell phone use in Texas a total mess. Although Texas has no statewide law banning all use of cell phones while driving, there are many local ordinances that prohibit or restrict the use of cell phones while driving.
This confusing map of Texas laws will continue. The next Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, shares the current governor’s dislike of further distracted driving legislation. Meaning, Texas will be left with a patchwork of local ordinances to confuse drivers for a long time.
Summary of Texas Cell Phone Laws
1. There is no statewide law banning the use of cell phones while driving for all drivers.
2. Drivers with learner’s permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving. If over 18, drivers may use hands-free cell phones.
3. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using all wireless communications devices.
4. In school zones, all drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld devices while driving.
5. Local ordinances may ban all uses of wireless communications devices while driving, ban on texting and other manual uses of wireless communication devices while driving, or ban just texting while driving.
According to the Texas Legislative Council, the following cities have ordinances prohibiting texting while driving: Alamo, Alice, Amarillo, Aransas Pass, Arlington, Austin, Bellaire, Brownsville, Canyon, Conroe, Converse, Corpus Christi, Denton, El Paso, Farmers Branch, Galveston, Grand Prairie, Harlingen, Helotes, Laredo, Magnolia, Maypearl, McAllen, Meadowlakes, Mission, Missouri City, Mount Vernon, Nacogdoches, Palmview, Pampa, Penitas, Richwood, Rowlett, San Antonio, Shoreacres, Sinton, Stephenville, Tomball, Universal City, West University Place.
Austin and San Antonio updated their ordinances on January 1, 2015. Both cities now ban all handheld devices as well as all texting. In Denton, the texting ban grace period will be over on Monday, February 16, and police will be start issuing tickets.