Texas Speeding Laws

Basic Speed Law: No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing or under the conditions and having regard to actual and potential hazards.  Tran. Code § 545.351(a) & (b)(1)

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first time violator may be:

  • fined between $1 and $200, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than one year.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

A first time violator may be:

  • fined not more than $200,
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than 30 days, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than one year.

Speed Limits

  • 70 MPH during the daytime on "numbered" highways and farm/ranchto-market roads outside an urban district
  • 65 MPH during the nighttime on "numbered" highways and farm/ranchto-market roads outside an urban district
  • 60 MPH during the daytime on highways that are not "numbered" and that are outside of an urban district
  • 55 MPH during the nighttime on highways that are not "numbered" and that are outside of an urban district
  • 30 MPH in an urban district
  • 15 MPH in an alley
  • 15 MPH on a beach
  • 15 MPH on a road adjacent to a public beach if declared by the commissioners court of the county

Texas Speeding Laws

Texas is one of the minority of states that use a “prima facie” or “presumed” speed limit law. In state that use this system for all or some of their roads it’s legal to drive over the posted limit as long as you are driving safely. For example, if you are driving 50 mph in a 40-mph zone, you are “presumed” to be speeding. But if it is 6 a.m. on a clear, dry morning with no other cars on a wide, straight road, and you can convince the judge that you were driving safely given those conditions, you should be acquitted. That’s because you present facts that “rebut the presumption” that by going over the limit you were driving at an unsafe speed.

In states such as Texas, if you’re accused of violating a “presumed” speed limit, you may be able to make two possible defenses:

  •  Claim you weren’t exceeding the posted speed limit, or
  •  Claim that, even if you were exceeding the posted limit, you were driving safely given the specific road, weather, and traffic conditions at the time.

Occasionally an officer will incorrectly measure your speed. But even when that happens, it can be hard to convince a judge to accept your version of the story. In short, if you were ticketed in a “presumed” speed area, it is most sensible to rely on the argument that you may have been driving slightly over the posted speed limit, but it was safe to do so considering all the highway conditions at the time. For example, if you know you were driving 33 to 35 mph in a 25-mph zone, and the officer can probably prove it, you should concentrate your defense on showing that you were driving at a reasonable speed, considering the conditions at the time you were stopped.

Note that in Texas you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit -- for example, driving exactly at the maximum mph posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

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