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  84R1357 JXC-D
 
  By: Craddick H.B. No. 80
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the use of a portable wireless communication device
  while operating a motor vehicle; creating an offense; providing
  penalties.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  This Act may be cited as the Alex Brown Memorial
  Act.
         SECTION 2.  Sections 521.161(b) and (c), Transportation
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (b)  The examination must include:
               (1)  a test of the applicant's:
                     (A)  vision;
                     (B)  ability to identify and understand highway
  signs in English that regulate, warn, or direct traffic;
                     (C)  knowledge of the traffic laws of this state;
  [and]
                     (D)  knowledge of motorists' rights and
  responsibilities in relation to bicyclists; and
                     (E)  knowledge of the effect of using a wireless
  communication device, or engaging in other actions that may
  distract a driver, on the safe or effective operation of a motor
  vehicle;
               (2)  a demonstration of the applicant's ability to
  exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a
  motor vehicle of the type that the applicant will be licensed to
  operate; and
               (3)  any additional examination the department finds
  necessary to determine the applicant's fitness to operate a motor
  vehicle safely.
         (c)  The department shall give each applicant the option of
  taking the parts of the examination under Subsections (b)(1)(B),
  (C), [and] (D), and (E) in writing in addition to or instead of
  through a mechanical, electronic, or other testing method.  If the
  applicant takes that part of the examination in writing in addition
  to another testing method, the applicant is considered to have
  passed that part of the examination if the applicant passes either
  version of the examination.  The department shall inform each
  person taking the examination of the person's rights under this
  subsection.
         SECTION 3.  Section 545.424, Transportation Code, is amended
  by adding Subsection (g) to read as follows:
         (g)  An offense under Subsection (a) or (b) is a misdemeanor
  punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
  is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
  previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this
  section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
  least $100 and not more than $200.
         SECTION 4.  Section 545.425(a)(1), Transportation Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
               (1)  "Hands-free device" means speakerphone
  capability, [or] a telephone attachment, or another function or
  other piece of equipment, regardless of whether permanently
  installed in or on a wireless communication device or in a [the]
  motor vehicle, that allows use of the wireless communication device
  without use of either of the operator's hands, except to activate or
  deactivate a function of the wireless communication device or
  hands-free device.
         SECTION 5.  Subchapter I, Chapter 545, Transportation Code,
  is amended by adding Section 545.4251 to read as follows:
         Sec. 545.4251.  USE OF PORTABLE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION
  DEVICE TO SEND TEXT-BASED COMMUNICATION; OFFENSE.  (a)  In this
  section:
               (1)  "Text-based communication" means data that is read
  from or manually entered into a wireless communication device,
  including an SMS text, e-mail, instant message, or other form of
  electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.
               (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 a
  text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the
  vehicle is stopped and is outside a lane of travel.
         (c)  It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that
  the operator used a portable wireless communication device:
               (1)  to read, select, or enter a telephone number or
  name for the purpose of making a telephone call;
               (2)  in conjunction with voice-operated technology, a
  push-to-talk function, or a hands-free device, as defined by
  Section 545.425;
               (3)  to navigate using a global positioning system or
  navigation service;
               (4)  to report illegal activity or summon emergency
  help;
               (5)  to read a text-based communication that the person
  reasonably believed concerned an emergency; or
               (6)  that was affixed to the vehicle to relay
  information between the operator and a dispatcher in the course of
  the operator's occupational duties.
         (d)  Subsection (b) does not apply to:
               (1)  an operator of an authorized emergency or law
  enforcement vehicle using a portable wireless communication device
  while acting in an official capacity; or
               (2)  an operator who is licensed by the Federal
  Communications Commission while operating a radio frequency device
  other than a portable wireless communication device.
         (e)  This section does not preempt a local ordinance, rule,
  or regulation adopted by a political subdivision relating to the
  use of a portable wireless communication device by the operator of a
  motor vehicle that is consistent with or more stringent than the
  provisions of this section.
         (f)  An offense under this section is a misdemeanor
  punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99 unless it
  is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been
  previously convicted at least one time of an offense under this
  section, in which event the offense is punishable by a fine of at
  least $100 and not more than $200.
         (g)  The Texas Department of Transportation shall post a sign
  at each point at which an interstate highway or United States
  highway enters this state that informs an operator that:
               (1)  the use of a portable wireless communication
  device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while
  operating a motor vehicle is prohibited in this state; and
               (2)  the operator is subject to a fine if the operator
  uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or
  send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle in
  this state.
         (h)  A peace officer who stops a motor vehicle for an alleged
  violation of this section may not take possession of or otherwise
  inspect a portable wireless communication device in the possession
  of the operator unless authorized by the Code of Criminal
  Procedure, the Penal Code, or other law.
         SECTION 6.  Section 708.052, Transportation Code, is amended
  by adding Subsection (e-1) to read as follows:
         (e-1)  Notwithstanding Subsection (b), the department may
  not assign points to a person's license if the offense of which the
  person was convicted is the offense of using a portable wireless
  communication device to send a text-based communication as
  described by Section 545.4251.
         SECTION 7.  The changes in law made by this Act to Sections
  545.424 and 545.425, Transportation Code, apply only to an offense
  committed on or after the effective date of this Act.  An offense
  committed before the effective date of this Act is governed by the
  law in effect on the date the offense was committed, and the former
  law is continued in effect for that purpose.  For purposes of this
  section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this
  Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.
         SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2015.