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New Ordinance to Prohibit Texting while Driving Begins Saturday

New Ordinance to Prohibit Texting while Driving Begins Saturday

Recently, the San Angelo City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits texting while driving. The ordinance takes effect on Saturday January 9, 2016, and states if you are operating a motor vehicle on a public street, you cannot text or use software applications. There are a few exceptions when texting or using applications would be allowed and they are as follows:

? While legally parked or stopped out of traffic
? While dialing or talking on the cell phone or other device
? To read directions when using the device as a navigation system (travel map)
? To call for police, fire or ambulance assistance to report an emergency such as a traffic accident, crime in progress or medical emergency
? In conjunction with voice operated, hands-free (blue-tooth) or push to talk technology

A violation of this ordinance will be filed through the San Angelo Municipal Court and will carry a fine not to exceed $500.00.

Beginning Saturday January 9, 2016, San Angelo Police officers will be stopping motorist who are observed violating the ordinance. Except in extreme circumstances, written warning citations will be issued through February 29, 2016 in an effort to educate drivers about the ordinance and give them the opportunity to adjust to the new restrictions. Beginning March 1, 2016, officers will begin taking full enforcement measures and will utilize their discretion on whether or not a citation is issued.

There have been some questions as to how the ordinance will be enforced. If a Police Officer sees a driver using a wireless communication device in a manner that reasonably infers the driver is texting or using an application in violation of the ordinance, the Officer will have probable cause to stop the driver. Whether a citation will be issued is at the discretion of the Officer. An Officer cannot inspect, seize, or take possession of the driver's phone unless authorized by State or Federal Law. However, the driver can give consent for the Officer to inspect the phone if the driver believes one of the exceptions to the ordinance applies.

The San Angelo Police Department encourages drivers to be aware of the provisions of the ordinance and make a conscious effort to comply. The ordinance can be found online at www.cosatx.us/government/city-attor..., and more information on frequently asked questions can be found on the SAPD web page, www.sanangelopolice.org.