Using a handheld phone in any manner while behind the wheel comes with real consequences for drivers.
Since 2017, texting and driving has been illegal in Texas. The law states that drivers are prohibited from using their phone to read and write texts and email messages, browse social media, watch videos and essentially use their phone for any length of time. The law does allow the use of a phone if you don’t actually hold it in your hands, such as if you use it to listen to music hands-free or to operate a GPS system. Drivers are also allowed to use a phone to call emergency personnel or enter a phone number and talk, as long as they do not hold the phone in their hands.
When people use their phone for any other reason, they can face harsh penalties if they are convicted of the crime. If you have been charged, a Texas criminal defense attorney can provide a defense that can help with your case.
Penalties for Texting and Driving in Texas
The penalty for texting and driving in Texas is not just a minor traffic ticket, like so many people think. It is a misdemeanor, which means it is an actual crime, and a conviction will leave you with a permanent criminal record.
In addition to a permanent record, the other penalties associated with texting and driving are quite serious. They include a fine between $25 and $99. That fine increases to $200 for repeat offenders.
Often when drivers are distracted, they cause accidents that result in serious injury or death to another person. When that is the case, offenders could spend up to one year in jail and fined up to $4,000. If a person is killed as a result, drivers could even face charges of criminally negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter. These charges have much steeper penalties.
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Defenses to Texting and Driving Charges
Although the penalties for texting and driving are serious, there are defenses available. One of these relies on the burden of proof the prosecution carries. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you were texting or using your phone improperly, which is very difficult. It is important that you do not give law enforcement your phone if they ask for it. This could help prove your guilt and just like anything else, they need a search warrant to search your phone.
If you were using your phone in a lawful manner, this could also provide a defense to your charges. Additionally, if you were not operating the vehicle at the time, this can also serve as a defense, as the law requires that to be guilty, you must use your phone while you are driving.
Need Help with Charges? Call Our Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers
Texting and driving charges in Texas are serious and you should not try to fight them on your own. If you have been charged, call our Webster, TX criminal defense lawyers at Scott M. Brown & Associates. We know the defenses to use that will give you the best chance of beating these charges. Call us today at (281) 612-7994 to learn more about how we can help.