An individual can be arrested for severe traffic offenses. In the United States, operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. This means that it can be taken away if someone is found to be operating a motor vehicle in a negligent, grossly negligent, or criminal manner.
Motor vehicles are heavy pieces of machinery that can cause significant amounts of property damage. Needless to say, driving a motor vehicle requires a sense of responsibility and caution. In Texas, the law imposes significant penalties for those found to have been operating a motor vehicle negligently or criminally. In fact, if an individual is found to be violating city ordinances or state laws enacted to promote public safety, they will be subject to hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
Texas Traffic Offenses Attorney
If you have been arrested for a traffic offense, contact The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is a skilled traffic attorney that will attempt to get your traffic ticket dismissed and the fine reduced. Allow him to preserve your freedom.
Call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free initial consultation today. The Benken Law Firm has offices in Houston but accepts clients in other communities including West University Place, The Heights, Bellaire, and Downtown Houston, and throughout all parts of Texas.
- Types Of Traffic Offenses In Texas
- Driving Under The Influence / Driving While Intoxicated
- Additional Resources
Types Of Traffic Offenses In Texas
In Texas, there are various forms of traffic offenses, some minor, others severe. Generally, most traffic offenses are classified as Class C misdemeanors. However, some traffic offenses are so severe that they may rise to felony offenses. The top five (5) traffic violations police officers witness from Texas drivers are as follows:
The most popular traffic offense in Texas is speeding. Texas has taken an aggressive stance against those who violate the speed limit. Specifically, Texas Transportation Code § 545.352 states as follows: “A speed above the limits established by Subsection (b) or under another provision of this subchapter is prima facie evidence that the speed is not reasonable and prudent and that the speed is unlawful.” In other words, if an individual is found to be driving more than the speed limit, even by one mile per hour, they will be presumed to have been driving unreasonably and can face fines of up to $300.00, court costs, increased insurance premiums, and even points on their license.
Running A Stop Sign/Red Light
The second most common traffic offense in Texas is running a red light. Texas Transportation Code § 544.001 expressly prohibits the running of red lights. Specifically, the operator of a motor vehicle is required to stop on the marked line or crosswalk immediately preceding the traffic signal and await an indication to continue moving forward. Like most states, running a red light constitutes a Class C misdemeanor.
If an individual is convicted of running a red light, they will be subject to fines of up to $300.00, license points, and even an increase in their insurance premiums! It is important to note that the fee schedules vary from county to county.
Are Red Light Cameras Legal?
No, in Texas, red light cameras have been found illegal. Specifically, Texas Transportation Code § 707.020 states that no local governmental authority can impose criminal or civil penalties associated with a highway or street violation stemming from the use of red-light cameras. Essentially, Texas has outlawed the use of red-light cameras, nor can prosecutors introduce evidence that was obtained through the use of red-light cameras.
Improper Lane Changes
Although seemingly vague, in Texas, anyone can be issued a ticket if the officer suspects an improper lane change. Improper lane changes are broad in nature and can result from: the failure to use blinkers, traversing several lanes at once, or obstructing traffic flow by changing lanes (i.e., cutting someone off). If an individual is convicted of an improper lane change, they may face fines of up to $200.00 and/or points on their driving record. It is important to note that repeat offenders may be subject to license revocation.
Texas Transportation Code § 545.401 defines reckless driving as: “[operating a vehicle] in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Essentially, willful, or wanton behavior occurs when someone operates a motor vehicle in a deliberate manner or with a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
If an individual is convicted of a reckless driving charge, they will be facing a fine of up to $200.00 and even face imprisonment for a period of up to thirty (30) days. Further, If a reckless driving charge is accompanied by the death of another person, the driver could face homicide or vehicular manslaughter charges, which can result in imprisonment of up to twenty (20) years and fines of up to $10,000.00.
Following Too Closely
One of the most unknown traffic violations is following another vehicle too closely. Texas Transportation Code § 545.062 defines an appropriate following distance as: “maintain[ing] an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.”
The law on following a vehicle too closely is extremely vague and left to the discretion of the police officer. Most police officers will conclude that an individual is following too closely if their vehicle is less than one (1) car length from the other vehicle. This is a highly subjective criminal offense, and those convicted of following too closely will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. As a Class C misdemeanor, offenders will face fines of up to $200.00.
Most of these cases are determined on a case-by-case basis, and thus, it is important to contact a Texas lawyer that specializes in defending traffic violations.
Driving Under The Influence / Driving While Intoxicated
According to Texas Penal Code § 49.045, driving while intoxicated occurs when an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds .08%. Driving under the influence is a serious offense and can result in the suspension of the individual’s driving privileges, jail sentences, and hefty fines.
It is important to note that the penalties associated with DUI/DWI offenses may vary depending on the case. For instance, first-time offenders will be subject to a driving license suspension, imprisonment of up to 180 days, and/or fines of up to $2,000.00. On the other hand, second-time DUI offenders may receive a fine of up to $4,000.00, imprisonment of up to one (1) year, and the revocation of driving privileges for a period of up to two (2) years. Third-time offenders may face imprisonment for a period of up to ten (10) years and fines of up to $10,000.00.
Traffic offenses in Texas are serious offenses and can result in severe penalties. Further, the traffic laws may be complex and thus, it is of paramount importance to immediately seek out assistance from an expert in the field. If an individual is facing penalties for any driving offense, please make sure to contact a Texas Lawyer specializing in criminal defense.
Texas Driving Laws – DMV is a privately owned website that provides information on all traffic offenses in Texas. It provides relevant information for definitions and penalties associated with driving offenses.
Texas Department of Transportation – The Texas DOT website provides updates on new laws and traffic ordinances. The government website also provides insightful tips on how to avoid collisions and traffic offenses.
Houston Traffic Offenses Lawyer | Harris County, TX
Have you been charged with a traffic offense? If so, we highly encourage you to get in contact with The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is a skilled criminal defense lawyer has made it a priority to surround himself with a team dedicated to defending your rights. He can work hard for a reduction or dismissal of your charges.
The Benken Law Firm serves clients throughout all communities in Harris County including Houston, Spring, Humble, Webster, Crosby and more. Call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation today.