HB 62

85(R) - 2017
House Transportation
Senate State Affairs
House Transportation
Senate State Affairs
Transportation & Infrastructure

Companion Bill

SB 31

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Negative
  • Negative


Tom Craddick


Judith Zaffirini

Bill Caption

Relating to the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle; creating a criminal offense; modifying existing criminal penalties.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

Currently, state law only prohibits the use of a wireless communication device in an active school zone.

HB 62 would implement a statewide prohibition on the use of a wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a vehicle. Any written notice to appear issued by an officer for the violation for use of a communication device would be required on the written notice. 

The bill stipulates that a peace officer must witness the act or be able to establish proof by other evidence of the offense committed by a driver of a vehicle, reading, writing, or sending an electronic message. 

An offense created under this bill would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $25-$99 fine for a first time offense and $100-$200 for a subsequent offense. An offense would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year if it is shown at trial that the defendant caused the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

The bill would provide for certain affirmative defenses to prosecution for use of hands free devices and an exemption for emergency personnel using devices in the course of their duty.

This bill would preempt any local laws pertaining to the use of a wireless communication device while driving.

Vote Recommendation Notes

HB 62 offends the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberty. The state does not need to address the use of mobile devices while operating a vehicle, as local governments already can and do address this as it suits them. There is no need for a top-down, one-size-fits-all policy directed by the state.

A new law banning texting while driving would be of dubious necessity considering that state law already prohibits reckless driving. Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.401 broadly defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” leaving plenty of room for texting while driving to be interpreted as reckless under existing statute.

Finally, studies have indicated that other types of distracted driving such as eating, talking to passengers, changing the climate controls, or tuning the radio dial are statistically higher causes of traffic accidents than using a mobile device. A new state law prohibiting texting while driving or other such uses of a mobile device could set a precedent for the state to later ban many other ordinary things like eating while driving, talking to passengers in the back seat while driving, or changing the radio station while driving. After all, It will be argued that if texting while driving must be banned in the interest of public safety than we must also ban the even more dangerous practice of talking to passengers while driving. This is how government continues to grow and regulate the most minute aspects of our lives. This is beyond the proper scope of government.

For these reasons we oppose HB 62.

Organizations Supporting

Apache Group
AT&T Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Centerpoint Energy 
Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
Concho Resources Inc.
Devon Energy
Newfield Exploration
Pioneer Energy Resources
Shell Oil
SM Energy
Texas Academy of Family Physicians 
Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions
Texas Municipal League
Texas Pipeline Association
TXU Energy

Organizations Opposed

Texas TURF