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Texas Speeding Law-

I received a speeding citation last week on the notorious I-45 speed trap. Allegedly, I was going 73 in a 60. In my pre blogging days I would call the court and ask for deferred adjudication, pay the tax (fine) and move on.

However, the Google SEO gods demand constant sacrifices of content so I’m considering setting this case for trial and blogging the experience. I haven’t completely committed to that endeavor just yet. The time obligation could be too great, and I may just give up and pay the fine. I also need to check and see if this is a court of record. That way if I have a trial and lose, I can appeal de novo and still get deffered or have another trial.

First, let’s look at the laws regarding speeding in Texas. Most people think it is illegal to simply drive faster than the posted speed limit. While you can always be ticketed for driving over the speed limit, you may not be guilty of speeding. How’s that? To chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code-

SUBCHAPTER H. SPEED RESTRICTIONS
Sec. 545.351. MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT. (a) An operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.

So why do cops pull people over for speeding when there is no evidence of unreasonable or imprudent speed? That’s where speed limits come in.

Sec. 545.352. PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS. (a) A speed in excess of 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.

Driving over the speed limit creates a rebuttable presumption that you were being unreasonable or imprudent. That is, the State has proven you were violating 545.351 by showing you drove over the speed limit. From that point it’s up to you to show you were being reasonable and prudent. This allows cops to ticket you for going any amount over the speed limit, even though you may be able to beat the case at trial.

Trials have large opportunity costs so most people pay the fine and/or call and ask for deferred.

Posted in: Texas Laws
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10 Responses to “Texas Speeding Law-”

  1. Bill says:

    Highway speed limits in Texas are supposed to be set based on a traffic study. However, speed limits in the DFW area were arbitrarily lowered in a (since discredited) attempt to lower vehicle emissions. When the change was proposed, TxDOT officially opposed it because scientific studies have shown that artificially low speed limits increase the quantity and severity of accidents.

    Bottom line: Driving at or below the speed limit would have been dangerous and imprudent. By driving with the flow of traffic you were being a safe driver, and the state of Texas says so.

  2. Edward says:

    The police say it is done for public safety. I say it is “revenue enhancement”. Leaving Ferris going north it is 65 mph…hit Dallas county and it drops to 60 YET we now have more lanes…at least 3….
    Does it make sense to drop to speed limit to 60. NO! This is revenue enhancement plain and simple.

  3. BSG says:

    I discovered this for the first time about a year ago. Not that it’s earthshaking, but there is an appellate court decision that supports your interpretation of the plane meaning of the statute.

    Tollett v. State, 219 S.W.3d 593 (Tex.App. – Texarkana 2007, pet. filed) — Not sure of current petition history.

  4. Robert Guest says:

    BSG,
    Here is a quote from the Tollett case-
    The offense of speeding requires, in general, proof that the vehicle’s speed was not reasonable and prudent. Section 545.351 of the Texas Transportation Code provides: “[a]n operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.” TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. § 545.351(a), (b) (Vernon 1999).

    However, the Transportation Code also establishes maximum speeds which are prima facie evidence that the vehicle’s speed is unreasonable. Section 545.352 provides “[a] speed in excess of 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.” TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. § 545.352 (Vernon Supp. 2006); see also TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. §§ 545.353, 545.355, 545.356 (Vernon Supp. 2006).

    Proof of exceeding a speed limit, while sufficient evidence for a jury to infer a finding the speed was not reasonable and prudent, does not conclusively establish that the speed is not reasonable and prudent. “Prima facie evidence” is merely “[e]vidence that will establish a fact or sustain a judgment unless contradictory evidence is produced.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 598 (8th ed. 2004).

    Although unlikely, a defendant could prove that a speed in excess of the statutory speed limit was reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing. Therefore, the State must allege the speed was greater than was reasonable and prudent. Eaves v. State, 171 Tex. Crim. 670, 353 S.W.2d 231, 232 (1961); see 7 MICHAEL J. MCCORMICK, ET AL., TEXAS PRACTICE: CRIMINAL FORMS AND TRIAL MANUAL § 30.42 (11th ed. 2005).

  5. Brandon Weaver says:

    Very interesting. I did not know any of this.

  6. El Rey says:

    Not a lawyer, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night: So if a highway is made from the same material as a NASCAR track and your automobile is electronically governed by the manufacturer to go 120 mph, then cruising above the relatively low posted speed limits seems reasonable and prudent to me. Am I missing something?

  7. scot says:

    What is the latest update on your ticket case??

  8. Ben says:

    So would the NTTA’s public admission of intent to raise the speed limit on the tollways implicitly raise them? The deputy executive director himself said they are doing this in order to make it safer!

  9. babsie1952 says:

    How about 35 in a 30 mph zone?

    I can’t believe this so instead of taking the chance of losing, deferred adjudtication here I come.

  10. BRUCE says:

    FIRST OF ALL NOONE IS SPEEDING!!! WE ARE ALL PRIVATE MEN AND WOMEN, AND WE OWN PRIVATE AUTOMOBILES.WE DON’T HAVE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AND THEREFOR WE DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE SPEED SIGNS BECAUSE THEY ARE FOR COM MERCIAL VEHICLES! AND A POLICE OFFICER WHO PULLS YOU OVER DOES NOT HAVE THE JURISDICTION TO PULL YOU OVER FOR ALLEGEDLY SPEEDING, UNLESS YOU ARE INVOLVED IN ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY!SO HAVE A TRIAL BY JURY!