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In Brief: San Marcos hands-free ordinance goes into effect February 1

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
January 29, 2016

Beginning February 1, it will be against the law to use a cell phone or other handheld device while driving a motor vehicle or riding a bicycle in San Marcos unless a “hands-free” mode is engaged on the device.

The new law does not prohibit using handheld devices when a vehicle is at a complete stop or when a device is being used to contact emergency responders or police.

The San Marcos City Council passed the hands-free ordinance in November 2015. The ordinance goes into effect February 1, with a one-month grace period in which violators will be issued warnings only. Police officers will begin issuing citations March 1.

The new law prohibits:

  • Dialing, hanging up, or engaging in a telephone conversation;
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting electronic images;
  • Using email;
  • Using GPS or other navigation applications;
  • Browsing the Internet;
  • Playing games
  • Typing, reading, or sending text messages

Making telephone calls using hands-free functions is allowed, as is using GPS and navigation devices that are attached to the vehicle.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of up to $100 for a first offense; up to $250 for a second offense; and up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

Information about the ordinance is available online at