No, You Can’t Text While Stopped at a Red Light in Texas, Maybe
It was a few weeks ago we had some pretty shocking news dropped on us. Nico apparently watches TV while he is driving. Yup, and he defends it as if it's not a terrible thing to do. He puts his cell phone on the dash, and watches TV while he's operating a motor vehicle. His argument is "other people speed, so I'm not doing anything any worse than them." Let that argument sink in.
This sparked the conversation about distracted driving in general and whether or not you can check your phone while you're stopped at a red light. In Texas, the answer is no. This comes from Thomas J. Henry's website.
In Texas, your car does not have to be moving in order to receive a ticket for texting while driving. Even if you are stopped at a stop light or stop sign, you are still considered to be operating a vehicle and should refrain from using your cell phone.
There are some driver's school websites that claim that you can text at a stoplight in Texas, but that's not the case anymore. Sort of. If you go the the TxDOT website they do have some advice.
- You cannot send or receive electronic messages while driving in Texas.
- Drivers with learner's permits are prohibited from using cellphones in the first six months of driving.
- Using any handheld device in your vehicle in a school zone is illegal.
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using handheld devices.
- School bus drivers may not use cellphones at all while driving if children are present.
- Cellphone laws can change from city to city.
Now, you can also check out the actual law, and there are a lot of loopholes or stipulations that allow you to check your phone.
Sec. 545.4251. USE OF PORTABLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR ELECTRONIC MESSAGING; OFFENSE. (a) In this section:
(1) "Electronic message" means data that is read from or entered into a wireless communication device for the purpose of communicating with another person.
(2) "Wireless communication device" has the meaning assigned by Section 545.425.
(b) An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. To be prosecuted, the behavior must be committed in the presence of or within the view of a peace officer or established by other evidence.
(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense under this section that the operator used a portable wireless communication device:
(1) in conjunction with a hands-free device, as defined by Section 545.425;
(2) to navigate using a global positioning system or navigation system;
(3) to report illegal activity, summon emergency help, or enter information into a software application that provides information relating to traffic and road conditions to users of the application;
(4) to read an electronic message that the person reasonably believed concerned an emergency;
From what I'm seeing there, basically if you do get pulled over because you checked your phone, you can just say it was either an emergency or you were checking your GPS. But I'm not a lawyer, so don't take my word for it.