An e-mail racing across the state offering a list of reported new traffic laws is bogus, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin said Monday.
“There are no new traffic laws going into effect in July,” Tom Vinger of the DPS Public Information Office said. “I’ve gone down the list one by one, and not a one of them is true. We’ve had a lot of people calling to confirm this.”
The e-mail, which began circulating among Texans last week, has generated a “tremendous volume of calls not only to our office, but also to DPS offices in the field,” Vinger said. “We suggest people receiving this e-mail hit ‘reply all’ and let everyone know none of it is true. Maybe we can get the word out in a reverse manner.”
DPS offices throughout the state have also been briefed of concerns the e-mail has generated among citizens, he added.
Vinger said he has been able to locate copies of the same e-mail that claims those laws are going into effect in California, and speculated that someone picked up that up thinking that it was for Texas. However, Web sites that specialize in verifying the accuracy of such e-mail campaigns have determined that most of the claims made in the e-mail are not true even in California, although a few are.
The list claims that — among other things — a first-time offender for driving while intoxicated will be jailed, and that drivers must use a hands-free device for cell phones or risk at $285 fine. Reportedly, new and higher fines going into effect included $1,068 for violating the car pool law, $380 for improper lane change, $485 for blocking an intersection, and $450 for driving on the shoulder. The e-mail claims that drivers will not be given any grace if they drive more than 3 mph above the posted limit.
None of these are Texas law, Vinger said.
“Some of them are pretty good ideas, because we always encourage motorists to obey the law and drive safely,” Vinger said. “Drivers should limit cell phone use when they’re behind the wheel, they shouldn’t exceed the speed limit or a safe speed for existing conditions, and they should wear their seat belts. But no new laws have gone into effect July 1.”
Vinger said it is interesting how this erroneous information has spread so quickly, because the message sometimes is slow to reach citizens when laws are actually changed. One such situation existed in 2003 when the “slow down or move over” law went into effect. It requires motorists to vacate one lane when driving past emergency vehicles stopped by the side of the road, or to slow down by 20 mph under the posted speed limit if that is not possible.