Texas has two types of speeding laws: a "basic speeding law" and "prima facie speed limits." This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of each type of violation.
Texas's basic speeding law prohibits driving "at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing." In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances.
For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a bright, sunny day. But if it's dark and the road is icy, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.
Some states have "absolute speed limits." With absolute limits it's simple: If the sign says the speed limit is 40 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you've violated the law.
Texas, however, uses prima facie speed limits. If you exceed a prima facie speed limit it doesn't necessarily mean you're guilty—you still have the opportunity to prove in court that your speed was safe. If you're able to do so, the judge (or jury) is supposed to find you not guilty.
Texas's prima facie speed limits include:
Prima facie speed limits are typically posted.
The penalties for a speeding ticket in Texas depend on the circumstances.
Speeding violations are normally misdemeanors in Texas.
Generally, anyone convicted of speeding will have to pay a fine plus court costs. Fines and costs vary by location but usually range from about $130 to $300, depending on the amount by which the driver exceeded the speed limit.
For example, speeding tickets in Houston Texas will cost the driver:
In all areas, the fines will be more expensive if the speeding violation was committed in a school or construction zone. Fines can also be higher if the speeding violation involved an accident.
Texas no longer uses a traffic violation point system.
Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a reckless driving conviction. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum of $200 in fines.
If a speeding violation leads to the death of another person, vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges. Vehicular manslaughter or homicide is a felony. A conviction could carry prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.