Houston Forward Times

04 September 2013 Written by  Jeffrey L Boney

Don’t Get Caught Driving Dirty

black driver stoppedAttention Texas drivers!!!

The Labor Day weekend has come and gone, but as of September 1st, all Texas drivers will need to brush up on the new traffic and driving laws that could bring about hefty fines if you are unaware of them.

Legislators have passed a number of new laws, and with those laws now in effect, law enforcement officials will be looking out for folks who are in violation of breaking those laws.

Many of the new laws are centered on protecting school kids, particularly as it relates to school zones and school buses.  The implementation of these new laws, come on the heels of kids returning back to school from summer break.

Legislators expanded the law concerning drivers using a cell phone and holding it to their ear while driving in an active school zone to other spots which are designated school crossing zones.  Legislators also increased the fines for drivers passing by a school bus that has stopped to load or unload school children, with fines being higher for drivers who are repeat offenders.

Texans will also have to pay attention to emergency vehicles, and now, vehicles with the Texas Department of Transportation, thanks to another expanded law which states that drivers must slow down their vehicles from the posted speed limit to 20 mph or move over to another lane.

Concerning car insurance, an exciting new change allows Texas drivers to now show proof of their car insurance on their cell phone.

Below are a few of the new laws that were mentioned above and are now in effect, that all Texas drivers should know about:

SB 181 allows a motor vehicle operator the option of using a wireless communication device cop pull girl over(such as a cell phone) to display motor vehicle financial responsibility (proof of insurance) information as evidence of financial responsibility. The display does not constitute effective consent for a law enforcement officer, or any other person, to access the contents of the wireless communication device except to view the financial responsibility information. *This bill is effective immediately.

SB 275 increases the penalty for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death of a person and failing to render aid from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. A second degree felony carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000, whereas a third degree felony carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.

SB 510 requires drivers to move over or slow down (as required depending on the roadway) when approaching a stationary Texas Department of Transportation vehicle with its lights activated and not separated from the roadway by a traffic-control device. This provision expands the state’s Move Over/Slow Down law, which already requires drivers to yield to tow trucks, police, fire and emergency vehicles. Violators would commit a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $200; punishable by a fine of $500 if property damage occurs; or a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily damage.

HB 347 expands the current limitations on wireless communication device (cell phone) use in an active school crossing zone to include the property of a public elementary, middle, or junior high school for which a local authority has designated a school crossing zone. The use will only be restricted during the time a reduced speed limit is in effect for the school crossing zone. Further, it will not apply to vehicles that are stopped, or drivers using a hands-free device or making an emergency call.

texting and drivingHB 625 clarifies that the penalty for operating a vehicle on a public highway without displaying the two license plates assigned to the vehicle is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.

HB 1174 amends current statute to increase the minimum fines for the misdemeanor offense of passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children. The minimum fine increases from $200 to $500, and the maximum fine for such an offense increases from $1,000 to $1,250. The bill also enhances the penalty for a second or subsequent conviction of that offense committed within five years to a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $2,000.

HB 2304 lowers the population requirement from 2.2 million to one million for counties where sheriffs or deputy sheriffs can be certified by DPS to enforce federal commercial motor vehicle regulations. This will open the opportunity to Bexar, Tarrant and Travis counties.

HB 3668 amends current statute to require the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in the injury or death of a person to immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if so, whether the person requires aid, in addition to other existing statutory requirements.

The Texas Department of Public Safety hopes the new laws provide added protection for everyone on the roadways.

MAA WereReady