Have you seen those red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror lately? If you want to keep your record clean, it’s good to know what cops are looking out for on the roads in Texas.
A recent article on PopularMechanics.com by Phil Berg provided some interesting insight into why you might get pulled over in Texas. In “Confessions of a Traffic Cop,” Berg interviewed retired police officer Mike Bukus, who shed light on some of the most ticketed traffic violations in the Lone Star State. Here are the five most common traffic tickets in Texas according to Bukus and our own Texas traffic violations research.
Just a decade or so ago, texting and driving wasn’t a problem. But as smartphones have become more and more prevalent, texting behind the wheel has increased dramatically. It’s now one of the most common forms of distracted driving, and Texas has the 6th highest rate of driver distraction from phones.
If you drive in Texas, you’ll have to follow a wide range of laws restricting cell phone use, particularly texting. In 2017 a state-wide texting while driving ban went into effect. It was a move that came after dozens of cities adopted their own ordinances banning texting while driving. In addition, some areas have restrictions on any use of hand-held cell phones or other electronic devices.
No matter where you are in Texas, young novice drivers are banned from hand-held cell phone use altogether. As this law is constantly evolving, your best bet to avoiding a ticket in Texas is to just put your phone down and keep your hands on the wheel.
Speeding is a very common moving violation across the country, with approximately 112,000 drivers receiving speeding tickets per day (41 million annually). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly a quarter of fatal car accidents are a result of speeding. So it’s no wonder cops nationwide put speeding at the top of their ticketing target list.
Texas is definitely not a state you want to speed through. According to research from Honda, Texas writes more speeding tickets annually than every other state except California, Florida, Georgia and New York. In 2014 alone, Texas police officers issued nearly 688,000 speeding tickets.
Speeding tickets aren’t just written when drivers cruise too fast down the highway. Cops will also ticket you for speeding contests and exhibitions. So save the drag racing for the track.
With speed limit signs posted everywhere from highways to residential streets, it’s also the easiest mistake drivers can avoid. The National Motorists Association, a driver advocacy group, has put Texas as one of the top 5 states where you’re most likely to get a speeding ticket. Keep this in mind when you feel your foot getting heavy on the accelerator.
There’s a good chance you’ve seen another driver roll through a stop sign or blast through a light as it changes red. Up until recently, you could still get a ticket for running a red light in Texas even if a cop is nowhere around because red light cameras were in use. There will probably be a drop in failure to stop tickets since Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law banning their use in 2019. But some cities like Dallas can continue using them until their camera contracts expire.
Regardless of whether you’re spotted by a cop or the all-seeing eye of a camera, red light tickets can be annoying and costly.
We all know impaired driving is illegal, even deadly. Yet across the U.S., one person is killed every 50 minutes in an alcohol-related accident. And according to the Texas Department of Transportation in 2018, 940 people were killed in DUI-related motor vehicle traffic crashes.
In case you aren’t aware, the national legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is .08%. In the state of Texas, your driver’s license implies consent to a breath or blood alcohol test. If you’re stopped on suspicion of DUI and you refuse the request for a test, your driver license will be suspended on the spot for 180 days.
It’s also worth mentioning that your first DUI offense in Texas can cost you $2,000 in fines, license suspension for one year and a minimum of 3 days in jail.
In Texas, everyone inside your vehicle needs to be belted in securely. Until recently, passengers in the back seat were exempt from using a seatbelt, but Sec. 545.413 of the Texas Occupant Restraint Law was amended to include all passengers in all seats. So those back seat drivers had better be wearing their seatbelts!
In addition, car seat laws specify that children eight and younger must be secured in a federally-approved restraint seat unless the child is at least four feet, nine inches in height. With heightened efforts put into their “Click it or Ticket” public safety campaign, you can be sure Texas cops are on the lookout for seatbelt violations.
These are just a few of the most common ways you could get a ticket in Texas. If you want to brush up on traffic laws, sign up for an online Texas defensive driving course. It’s a great way to ensure you’re safe and confident behind the wheel.
*This article was updated on 5/7/2020