The great State of Texas is known for many, many things. From stellar BBQ to Matthew McConaughey to the fastest speed limits in the whole country. But fast speed limits aren’t the only notable thing about Texas traffic laws.
Texas has some quirky laws that you can’t possibly anticipate, and that will leave you scratching your head. Not up to date on the weird traffic laws in Texas? Read on for a crash course on everything you need to know when you’re driving through the Lone Star State!
1. Don’t Leave Your Keys in the Ignition
Texans are no stranger to extreme weather. Winters can be icy and cold and summers are insufferably hot. As a result, many Texans are prone to leaving their keys in the ignition of their car.
Well, regardless of how much you’d like to have a warm car in the winter or a cool car in the summer, it is actually against the law for you to leave your keys in the ignition when your car is unattended. This law is meant to protect you from car theft and pedestrians and other drivers from the risks associated with an unattended running vehicle.
If you’re caught, you’ll be charged with a Class C misdemeanor which carries a $500 ticket. Get around this law by purchasing a vehicle with a remote start or push-button ignition and carry your keys with you.
2. Your Car Insurance Will Be More Expensive If…
Car insurance in Texas is not cheap. For some, your car insurance rate rivals the cost of a car payment. Unfortunately, if you choose specific makes and models of car vehicles that are frequently stolen, you’ll find yourself stuck with an even more expensive car insurance rate.
The most commonly stolen vehicles include: Ford F-Series trucks, Ford Explorers, Chevy Tahoe, GMC trucks, Honda sedans, Toyota Camry, Dodge trucks, and Chevy trucks. While it isn’t a state law that car insurance rates be set higher for these vehicles, all carriers will take the make and model of your car into consideration when calculating your insurance rate.
3. No U-Turns Here
Planning on visiting Richardson, Texas? If so, make sure you’re on point with your directions, because you won’t be able to make a u-turn if you make a mistake. That’s right, it is illegal to make a u-turn throughout the whole city of Richardson.
But why? Perhaps it’s Richardson’s proximity to Dallas and the associated traffic, or maybe it’s meant to promote driver safety. Either way, nix u-turns when you’re in town.
Oh, and if you’re in nearby Fort Worth, don’t forget to engage the parking brake every time you get out of the car!
4. You Can Pass on the Shoulder
You know the scenario: you’re driving on a two-lane road when the car in front of you slows down to a stop so they can make a left-hand turn, effectively halting all traffic. In many states, it’s illegal to do anything but wait in these situations, but not in Texas.
In Texas, you are permitted to pass a car that is slowed or stopped on the shoulder. You can also drive on an improved shoulder if you want to let someone pass you or if you need to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
5. Guilty as Charged
No one likes getting a ticket, and if you ask anyone who gets a ticket, the officer who issued it was completely wrong. Regardless, with the exception of the very rare scenario, there’s little that you can do to escape paying it and sometimes, it’s just much easier to pay the ticket and move on.
In Texas, however, paying your ticket means that you’re making admitting you’re guilty. To add salt to the wound, Texas levies surcharges on each traffic ticket based on a variety of factors.
6. Keep Your Doors Closed
Picture it: you’re late for work and haven’t had a second to eat breakfast. You stop by your local Whataburger for coffee and taquitos, but your cupholder is occupied by yesterday’s beverages. Naturally, you open your door, pour out the old drink, and set it aside to be trashed.
If you do that, you better hope a police officer doesn’t catch you doing it in San Antonio. That’s right, you’re not allowed to open your car door while operating a car or truck, even if you’re at a full stop. If you’re caught, you face a fee of $150 or more.
Next time, roll down the window!
7. Windshield Weirdness
There are a number of things a car must have in order to be safe. Windshields and windshield wipers are just a couple of those things, and the State of Texas agrees. Well, it agrees on one of those things.
If you’re driving in Texas, you must have windshield wipers, but you do not need to have an actual windshield. While it’s not illegal to have a car without a windshield, you should probably have one installed if you’re without.
8. At Arm’s Length
Driving through Lubbock with a cold beer in the beverage holder? You’re not going to be happy if a police officer sees you, even if the beer is sealed. Lubbock restricts drivers from having any kind of alcohol within arm’s length.
That’s not super weird, but wait, there’s more! Lubbock considers a passenger’s blood alcohol as having alcohol within arm’s length. So if you’re serving as a designated driver in Lubbock, make sure your drunk passengers sit in the back.
Thankfully, that law only applies in Lubbock, but DWI laws apply throughout the state. Read more here if you’ve been charged with a DWI in the Houston area. And when in doubt, hire a taxi or order an Uber.
Are You on Top of Texas Traffic Laws?
Texas traffic laws have their fair share of quirks, but remember that ignorance of the law is not a valid defense when you violate it! So avoid u-turns in Richardson and set your parking brake in Fort Worth and you’ll be good to go. Oh, and tell your drunk friends to hit the backseat in Lubbock.
Want to catch up on more laws in the Lone Star State and beyond? We’ve got you covered! Check out the rest of our blog to keep your legal knowledge up to date.