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Understanding Texas Speeding Laws to Avoid a Reckless Driving Charge

The law in Texas requires all drivers to operate their vehicles at a safe and reasonable speed. Disregarding speeding laws in Texas can result in a speeding ticket and, in addition, a reckless driving charge.

A person can be charged with reckless driving in Texas if they were driving a vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or their property. Examples of reckless driving may include:

  • Running a red light
  • Driving at a high speed
  • Swerving in and out of lanes

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, and a court can issue a fine of up to $200 and choose whether to impose a jail sentence of up to 30 days. However, the speeding laws in Texas aren’t as straightforward as in other states. Some states have what is called “absolute” speed laws, and going any speed above the posted limit is a speeding violation that can result in a citation.

Texas, on the other hand, has two different types of speeding regulations: basic and prima facie.

The basic speeding statute states that a person may not drive at a speed considered unreasonable under the existing circumstances and when considering both actual and potential road hazards.

Therefore, just because a driver is traveling within the posted speed limit doesn’t mean they won’t find themselves subject to a speeding ticket. Even if the applicable speed limit allows drivers to travel 70 mph, a driver may be required to lower their rate of speed if weather or other roadway conditions call for it.

In determining whether an individual was driving at a safe and prudent speed, the court may consider factors such as:

  • The rate of traffic
  • Driver’s speed
  • Weather conditions
  • Presence of pedestrians or school zones

Texas also has what are called “prima facie” speed limitations. Prima facie limits mean any driver who goes faster than a posted speed limit is guilty of speeding unless they can prove that their rate of speed was still reasonable and prudent under the existing circumstances. For example, if the posted limit is 55 mph, but traffic is flowing at a rate of 65 mph, a driver may be able to show the court that the increased speed was not only reasonable, but necessary to avoid interrupting the regular flow of traffic.

The distinction between basic speeding and prima facie speeding bears heavily on whether you can be convicted of reckless driving. If charged with a prima facie violation, you may be able to argue that you were driving safely despite the rate of speed, which may result in both the speeding and reckless driving charges being dropped.

Leland Reinhard Law Firm helps clients throughout Johnson, Hill, Somervell, and Hood counties with a broad scope of personal injury matters. Call 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my Cleburne office.