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By Jim Adler September 22, 2015

Did you know that new driving laws went into effect in Texas Sept. 1 — and they could impact you? Jim Adler & Associates provides a summary for you below.

Teens Must Face Distracted Driving Risks

One new law involves new requirements for teenagers to complete a driver’s education course. Now they also must complete a two-hour program designed to make them aware of common teenage driving distractions, such as texting, making cellphone calls or surfing the Internet.

The program, named Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD), will follow the completion of classroom driver studies and instructions at the wheel of a vehicle. It is the final step before taking a driving skills text, which must be taken within 90 days of receiving an ITTD completion certificate.

Persons 18 to 24 who choose to complete a teen driver education course also must take Impact Texas Teen Drivers.

Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, called driving “one of the most dangerous things teens do on a daily basis, and it should command their undivided attention.” He said Impact Texas Teen Drivers will underscore “the risks of distracted driving,” which is known to have killed many Texans.

Drunk Driving Interlocks Expand

Texas also passed HB 2246, which requires all persons arrested for driving while intoxicated to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle during their license suspension period after their arrest.

Under the law, drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) have the choice of either applying for an interlock device within 15 days after their arrest or choosing not to drive. Previously, DWI offenders could get a non-interlock restricted license after their arrest.

The interlock-restricted license period is at least 180 days for repeat offenders and 90 days for first-time offenders.

In hailing Texas’ new law, Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said, “We are relieved to add Texas to the growing list of states (24 others have such laws) that have taken action to protect residents and visitors from the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving.”

Also supporting such laws nationwide are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bill advocate Texas Sen. Joan Huffman called the new law “a common sense measure designed to increase accountability,” while bill advocate Rep. Jason Villalba said drunk drivers “have claimed the lives of too many Texans.”

Indeed, the NHTSA says 40% of all Texas traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers. Texas had the nation’s most drunk driving deaths in 2013, with 1,337 people killed.

Other New Driving Laws

Other new Texas laws for driving include:

  • SB 1934, amending a statute to allow issuing only one Texas driver’s license or ID card per person, and discontinuing issuance of no-expire ID cards for those 60 and older.
  • SB 1918, amending a statute to authorize use of LED ground-effect lighting equipment on motorcycles. Such lighting is allowed only if it illuminates the body or the ground below a motorcycle and emits a non-flashing white or amber light, so as not to be confused with emergency vehicles.
  • HB 2194, creating an exemption to a statute that allows a vehicle to be left running and unattended if the operator starts the engine via a remote starter or comparable device.

New laws are designed for Texans’ safety, and Jim Adler & Associates encourages all drivers to be aware of them and heed them. If you are injured in an auto accident by a bad driver who did not follow the law, notify our law firm today and get a free legal review of your case.

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