MIDLAND COUNTY, TX (KWES) - Longtime Texas House Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland was able to push his bill to ban texting while driving state-wide through the Texas Senate.
Craddick said Gov. Abbott already agreed to sign the bill into law when it arrived on his desk. It's taken six years for Craddick's texting ban to make its way back to the governor's desk.
In the wake of a deadly bus crash in south Texas and the ever-rising numbers of deadly crashes with texting to blame, officials said it's time for the state to get involved.
Midland County's District Attorney went to Austin to make sure lawmakers know how important it is to stop distracted driving.
Texas is one of the four only states where texting while driving is still legal. Prosecutors said it's necessary to make illegal in order to convict criminals who take someone's life for sending a simple text.
Only one step is left before texting while driving is illegal in Texas.
Midland County District Attorney, Laura Nodolf, was in Austin and testified in favor in the bill. She said it's something West Texas is in need of.
"It is a big problem, in fact. Daily, I see people who are texting while driving, even though we have an ordinance that says that texting while driving is illegal," said Nodolf. "The problem is I don't feel like people are really still perceiving that this is an issue and we're glad that the state has come in to say that this is in fact, a violation of the law."
In extreme situations like an accident where someone is seriously hurt or killed, it would give prosecutors the right to download a phone. All messages with timestamps would show up, something Nodolf said would make many cases more clear cut.
"We've actually had cases, some time ago, where I know that there was a death caused as a result of somebody who was texting," said Nodolf. "At that point in time, law enforcement didn't feel like they had enough to move forward on because it was a new area, it was a new technology, could we really say that this was a factor in driving? Well, now we know that it is."
If the bill does become Texas law, drivers are still allowed to use their GPS and text in a stopped vehicle.
Nodolf hopes this will prevent some heartbreak, like the one she heard about when she was in Austin.
"They [parents] had given previous testimony about the text that caused their daughter to die was "L-O-L." That's it," said Nodolf. "And she lost her life over "L-O-L."
Governor Greg Abbott has said he supports the bill and all signs point to him signing it. Depending on when it's signed, the bill can kick into place in July or on Sept. 1, 2017.