Texas State has enacted many safety laws to ensure that drivers, passengers and pedestrians are safe on the road. These laws cover everything from seat belts, child car seats, helmets, DUI and cell phone use. The state requires you to comply with these laws. If you fail to do so, you will be nailed with heavy fines, be jailed or get a license suspension.
Texas Child Car Seat Laws
Any child younger than 8 years old must ride in a child car seat that has been approved federally. If a child is younger than 8 years old, but taller than 4 feet 9 inches he or she may be exempted from this law. The following guidelines will be helpful when buying a car seat for your child.
- Aged 1 year old and weighing less than 35 pounds, a rear facing child car seat is preferred.
- Aged between 1 and 4 years old and weighing between 20 lbs and 40 lbs, a forward-facing child car seat is recommended.
- Aged between 4 years old and 8 years old and weighing over 40 pounds, a booster seat is recommended.
Failure to comply with the above child car seat laws will lead to a fine of up to $25 if it is your first offense. For subsequent offences, you will face a fine of up to $250.
Seat Belt Laws in Texas
All car occupants (driver and passengers) must wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Failure to comply with this law will lead to fines for both the driver and passenger. These fines include:
- $200 fine for driving without a seat belt.
- $25-$50 fine for passengers older than 15 years riding without a seat belt.
- $100-$200 fine for any driver who fails to ensure that passengers younger than 17 years old wear a seat belt.
- $25-$200 for any driver who allows children younger than 18 years old to ride in an open flatbed truck or pick-up.
Texas Motorcycle and Bicycle Helmet Laws
You will be exempted from wearing a helmet if you:
- Are older than 21 years old.
- Have a health insurance policy that covers property damage and injuries resulting from motorcycle accident.
- Have successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course.
While riders older than 21 years old, with insurance policy or those with a certificate of completion from a motorcycle operator training and safety course are exempted from wearing helmets, it is highly recommended that they do so to prevent injuries to the head in case of a motorcycle accident.
There is no state-wide bicycle helmet law. However, each jurisdiction within Texas has its own bicycle helmet law. For more information regarding bicycle helmet requirements, contact your local DMV office or law enforcement officers.
Cell Phone Use on Texas Roads
Texas safety law bans the use of cell phones while driving if you are:
- Younger than 18 years old.
- Holding a learner’s permit for 6 months or less.
- Are in a school crossing zone.
- Driving a school bus when pupils are present.
Some cities and counties in Texas have additional regulations regarding the use of cell phones within their jurisdiction. For more information, contact your local DMV office or law enforcement officers.
Texas DWIs and Drunk Driving Laws
You will face stiff penalties if you are caught driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). These penalties include jail time, fines or driver’s license suspension for a certain period. If you are intoxicated as a result of alcohol or any other addictive substance, your physical and mental abilities are impaired. The state uses your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) to determine your level of intoxication. All drivers younger than 21 years old are not required to drive their vehicles while under any level of intoxication. Minors who are caught intoxicated while driving face DWI charges which include community service, fines, enrollment in a compulsory alcohol awareness school or license suspension. If you are guilty of a DWI, you will face the following penalties for your first offense:
- A fine of up to $2,000.
- A jail time of up to 180 days.
- Driver’s license suspension for up to 1 year.
For subsequent offenses, you will face stiff penalties including longer jail term or longer license suspension. For more details on DUIs and DWIs charges in Texas, download the Texas DUIs and DWIs guide.
Reporting Drunk Drivers
If you suspect a drunk driver driving dangerous, contact the Texas Motorists Helpline toll free number (800) 525-5555 or 911. Be sure to provide the vehicle’s license plate number, description, current location and travel direction.
Signs that a driver is intoxicated
- Weaving and swerving across lanes.
- Drifting off the road or into other cars.
- Problems with staying in the lane.
- Braking too late or too early.
- Driving noticeably slower than the speed limit.
- Accelerating or slowing down for no reason.
- Driving in the wrong lane.
- Failure to use headlights at night.
- Delayed or no reaction to traffic signals.
- Inability to signal properly.
- Driving too closely to other vehicles.
- Making unsafe lane changes.
- Unusual or loud behavior such as yelling and throwing items.
Unattended Children in Texas
In Texas, it is illegal to leave a kid younger than 7 years old unattended in a car longer than five minutes. If you intend to do so, the kid must be supervised by an individual older than 14 years. If you are caught violating this law, you will face a fine of up to $500. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services advise parents against leaving their children unattended in a vehicle at any given moment.
Texas Headlight Laws
All vehicles operating on public roads must be fitted with two working headlights that are white in color. These headlights must be turned on 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise and whenever the visibility is less than 1,000 feet ahead. All motorcycle riders must turn on headlights during daytime whenever they are in operation. All bicycles must be fitted with red light on the back at night and a white light in front.