Texas Traffic Laws – Better to Know

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Traffic Violations and Fines in Texas

Unfortunately for Texans, the Lone Star State is in the top 5 in the nation for issuing traffic tickets. It might be that Texans have an innate need for speed… or that Texas cops have more quotas to fill! But regardless of the reason, it’s even more important to obey the traffic laws to the letter when driving in Texas to avoid various traffic violations and fines. It’s helpful to know what kinds of violations can be prosecuted under law, so that you know

Minor vs. Major Violations

The severity of the traffic violation will determine what type of fine you’ll receive if you’re cited. Minor violations or misdemeanors include:

  • Disobeying railroad crossing signs - $50 – 200
  • No seat belt - $50 – 200
  • Speeding - $150 average
  • Parking illegally in handicapped space – up to $500
  • Failure to stop for a school bus - $200 – 1000

Remember that these are typically for a first offense; second-offense violations will be more severe, up to and including license suspension. Major violations are classified as criminal or felony charges, and carry much harsher consequences, including those for drinking and driving and a hit and run accident. Various traffic violations and fines that are major include:

  • Driving without a license - $200, not including reinstatement and/or towing fees
  • Reckless driving – up to $200 and 30 days in jail
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) - $2000 for first offense plus 90 days – 1 year license suspension, and 3-day minimum jail time
  • Hit & run accident – up to $5000 and maximum 5 years in jail
  • Intoxication manslaughter (drunk driving resulting in death) – up to $10,000 and 2-20 years in jail

The most common citations in Texas are for speeding, disobeying stop/yield signs, passing emergency vehicles, and no proof of insurance. So thankfully, the major violations are few and far between.

Got a Ticket? Here’s what to Do

If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, the most important thing is to remain calm and respectful with the police officer. Raising a fuss will only get you into further trouble! Speak in a clear manner, make eye contact, and obey all requests from the officer. Acting this way may actually help you get off with just a warning. If you truly are guilty, admit it and apologize. Even if it doesn’t get you out of the situation, the officer may be more accommodating toward you. Some may let you give your side of the story, but if they still decide to ticket you, the best plan is to accept it without argument. You may choose to simply pay the ticket, or take it to court, at which time you will be able to fully illustrate your defense.

If you go to court, the same rules apply. Remain calm and respectful at all times, and make your case as clearly and thoroughly as possible. If applicable, ask for video taken from the police camera, traffic camera or security camera to help back up your argument. If you feel you need outside help, you can always hire an attorney who specializes in traffic law, and the next time you’re behind the wheel of your car, make sure to drive responsibly and avoid those red and blue lights in your mirrors!

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