Specifically, Section 19-111 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Sweetwater provides:
(b) Offenses. It is unlawful and a person commits an offense if the person while using a handheld wireless communication device to send, read, or write a text message and/or email, view pictures or written text, whether transmitted by internet or other electronic means, engages in gaming, or any other use of a handheld wireless communication device with the exception of initiating, answering, conducting or terminating a telephone call while operating a motor vehicle within the city limits.
The are certain exceptions which constitute affirmative defenses. Those are if the wireless communication:
- Was used to initiate, answer, or terminate a telephone call;
- Was used while the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped;
- Was used to communicate with an emergency response operator, a fire department, a law enforcement agency, a hospital, physician's office, or health clinic regarding a medical or other bona fide emergency;
- Occurred when it was affixed to the vehicle and used as a global positioning or navigation system, or used as a hands-free device or in hands-free mode.
Nor does the ordinance apply to government officials acting in that capacity with an immediate need to make such communications.
A violation of the new law is punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.00 and is not a moving violation for purposes of one's driving record or insurance. The ordinance becomes effective ten days following publication in the newspaper, which, according to a KTXS report citing Police Chief Brian Frieda, is expected be Wednesday, September 23, 2015.
If you are cited for violating the new ordinance and you believe your are not guilty the charge, contact our firm today to discuss your options.