January 27

SAN ANTONIO BANS TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

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San Antonio Traffic Ticket Attorney on Texting While Driving Ban

Back in October of 2010 San Antonio’s City Council passed a new ordinance banning texting while driving. A 90 day grace period was provided so driver’s had time to become aware of the law and make any necessary adjustments.

On Saturday, January 22, 2011, the texting ban went into full effect. The result is that police may now stop offenders and issue citations for texting while driving with a fine of up to $200. Activities such as posting on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and surfing the Internet are also banned. Only placing and receiving phone calls is permitted.

The new law specifically prohibits using a “hand-held mobile communication device to send, read or write a text message, view pictures or written text, whether transmitted by Internet or other electronic means, engage in gaming or any other use of the device, besides dialing telephone numbers or talking to another person, while operating a moving motor vehicle.”

This means claiming you were not texting, but instead were checking e-mail or using the GPS function of your phone will not get you out of a ticket. The ban even prohibits texting while stopped in traffic or at a red light. In short, you may not use your cell phone for any other purpose but to make and receive telephone calls while in your vehicle. Of course, an exception exists for public safety personnel (cops) during the course of their official duties (i.e. which I suspect they will claim is the case every time they decide to text while driving).

A January 14 article by KSAT.com in San Antonio pointed out the interesting fact that a recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute reveals there were actually more crashes after texting bans went into effect in three out of four states studied. This is presumably because drivers in cities where texting is banned hold their cell phones lower down to keep from being seen, causing their eyes to drop as well and not be on the road.

I also have to wonder how this really affects the use of GPS devices such as TomToms or other electronic map devices. They can certainly be hand-held, are electronic and communicate with us. If such GPS gadgets are not included in the ban, are they really all that much different? I have several friends whose GPS screens are fairly low down on the car’s console, and certainly require the driver to take his eyes off the road.

Be aware, Universal City has also banned texting while driving. Based on the mind numbing hassle and total waste of time it causes, my experience is that you don’t want to get any kind of traffic ticket in Universal City, period. Besides San Antonio and Universal City, other cities within Bexar County have not adopted texting while driving bans as of the date of this writing.

Tickets issued for texting while driving can be taken care of at the San Antonio Municipal Court.

For specific wording of the law, see City Ordinance 2010-10-07-0853, Chapter 19, Article VII of the City Code of San Antonio


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