Tuesday, August 27, 2013
New law prohibits cellphone use anywhere in a school zone
The new law takes effect on September 1.
Parents and other adults dropping off and picking up children from schools should remember that new state laws go into effect September 1 prohibiting drivers from using mobile phones on school grounds while vehicles are moving, requiring all occupants in vehicles to wear seat belts and mandating that all children under the age of eight or shorter than 4’9″ tall are seated in a proper child safety seat.
The first new law, Section 425.4252 of the Transportation Code, prohibits the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle on the property of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school for which a local authority has designated a school crossing zone, during the time a reduced speed limit is in effect for the school crossing zone, unless: (1) the vehicle is stopped; or (2) the wireless communication device is used with a hands-free device.
In other words, while school zone lights are flashing, it is a misdemeanor offense for a driver to use a cell phone while the vehicle is moving anywhere on school property — not just on the road in school zones, but also when driving through the parking lot and drop-off lanes — unless he or she is using a hands-free device.
The only exception to the law is if the driver must call an emergency provider, including a family doctor.
Drivers who ignore this new law may face fines up to $200 per offense.
This means drivers cannot text, play games, or use the phone for any other purpose while driving. Passengers may use cell phones for these various purposes, however, since there are no restrictions for them.
It is also the responsibility of local governments to post clearly visible signs as reminders to drivers. If they do not, a citation may then be defended in court. Remember that the signs might be obscured by foliage or for other reasons. Limiting cell phone use near schools is the safest way to avoid a ticket.
If children do not have their seat belts buckled or if they are not in safety seats, the new law mandates a $25 fine for a first offense and $20 for additional offenses.
Pegasus News Content partner - TheRockwallNews.com