Driving Laws in Texas

Intersection with traffic

Whether you’re a born and raised Lone Star resident or you’ve just settled into the big state of Texas, it’s a good idea to review the Texas traffic laws to stay safe and avoid a traffic violation. If you’ve moved here from another state, it’s good to familiarize yourself with driving laws of your new home, especially since some driving laws may vary from state to state. Though you may be an experienced driver, it’s always good to brush up on your knowledge, particularly for any new Texas driving laws recently implemented.

 

Seat Belts are for Safety

It’s simple, Texas law requires drivers and all passengers in the vehicle to be secured by a safety belt. Adult passengers in the backseat without restraints may be ticketed for not buckling up. The law also states that all children younger than 8 years old (or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall) must be in a child safety or booster seat. Certain child safety seats may vary based on age and size. Find out which seat is best for your child here. Penalties for unrestrained passengers can cost up to $250 plus court costs.

No Texting and Driving In Texas

The 47th state in the U.S. to pass a law regarding use of a device, as of September 1, 2017, texting while driving in the state of Texas is strictly prohibited. However, exemptions are made for using navigation devices and/or stereo controls. A first-time-offender will receive a fine between $25 – $99. Repeat offenders can expect fines between $100 – $200. If an accident is caused by texting that results in serious injury or death, the driver may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This means offenders face a fine up to $4,000 and jail time up to one year.

U-Turns

Making a U-ey in some states is completely illegal but in the state of Texas, it is permissible under the following conditions:

  1. You must be able to clearly see at least 500-feet both behind and in front of your vehicle. If you can make the turn safely, it’s acceptable to do so. If a police officer witnesses a turn that he feels is unsafe, you may be ticketed.
  2. Turns are permissible everywhere unless clearly marked. If a no U-Turn sign is visible, U-Turns are not allowed. Most intersections allow for U-Turns; however, some cities may post a No-U-Turn sign if a particular intersection is too risky to complete a safe U-Turn. Be safety conscious and heed the warning of the No-U-Turn sign.
  3. Follow left-hand turn rules. At a signaled intersection you must wait until you have a green light or green arrow and yield to any oncoming traffic before completing your U-turn.
  4. You have the right-of-way. If a car in the other direction is attempting to turn right on red, whilst you are attempting to make your U-turn, you have the legal right to go first. Nevertheless, it is important to make sure the other vehicle sees you to avoid a collision.

Window Tint Laws In Texas

To help keep your car cool in the summer, having tinted windows makes your car interior a lot more comfortable. The percent of visible light allowed, referred to as the VLT or Visible Light Transmission, allows a certain percentage of light through the film and glass. In Texas, this varies for sedans, SUVs, and vans. Tint darkness for sedans front side windows must allow for more than 25% of light while back side windows do not have any restrictions. On vans and SUVs, the front side and rear windows are the same as a sedan, yet, back windows vary, entirely. With side mirrors, any darkness applies. Without, only 25% of VLT is permitted.

Good Samaritan & Civil Liability

This law is intended to prevent a child or disabled person from being left in a hot car. From 1998 – 2017 more than 114 people perished from exposure in a hot vehicle. Any passerby that witnesses a person in distress in a vehicle is authorized to break into the vehicle to provide medical assistance while not being held responsible for any damages incurred. Sadly, this law does not apply to pets left in cars.

School Zones & Local Ordinances

Speed limits are posted on every roadway for drivers to observe the appropriate speed for the area as outlined by the State of Texas. However, certain municipalities have the ability to alter speeds based on their needs as a result of an engineering and traffic study. In the case of school crossing zones, the speed can be reduced as low as 15 MPH. To prevent speeding in school zones, increased fines, and court costs have been imposed on offending drivers. Often, an additional $25 court cost is added onto the cost of the ticket to fund school crossing guard programs and other child-safety related programs.

Move Over/Slow Down

Established in 2003, motorists are required by law to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles including police, fire, ambulances, and Texas Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks that are stopped on the side of the road with their emergency lights on. Drivers must vacate the lane closest to the responder (where multiple lanes are present) or slow down to 20 MPH below the speed limit. It’s important to note that drivers should only move over if they are able to do so safely and legally. Violating this law can result in fines up to $200 and up to $500 in the event of property damage. If any bodily injury occurs, as a result, drivers can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor with the penalty of jail time and up to $2,000 in fines.

 

Besides avoiding a ticket or jail time for violating any Texas driving laws, you can stay safe when you’re out on the road. To keep your car running in top condition, look to Sun Auto Service. Our ASE Certified Technicians work hard to keep your vehicle road ready. In addition to the wide variety of services we offer such as routine maintenance and repairs, we offer state inspections. In order to register your vehicle in Texas, your vehicle must pass the annual inspection and safety standards set forth by the Texas Department of Public Safety. These inspections can only be performed at Official Vehicle Inspection Stations licensed by DPS. Sun Auto Service is authorized to perform your inspection! Stop by any of our Texas locations for repairs, maintenance, or State Inspections today!