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New Texas Driving Laws Go Into Effect September 1

The Texas Legislature had a busy year in 2009 and enacted the following laws that went into effect on September 1st.

Driving Safety

  • Seat Belts

  • HB 537 requires all occupants of a vehicle, no matter where they are seated to wear safety belts or to be secured in an approved child safety seat. Passenger vehicles include passenger vans that carry up to 15 passengers including the driver.

    This law also removes the exemption for third-party Medicare transporters and now requires that they use child passenger safety seats.

  • Child Restraint Seats

  • SB 61 changed the law regarding child safety seats and now requires any child 8 years and under to be secured in an approved child safety seat. Children too large for the typical toddler child safety seat need to be secured in a booster seat. Children younger than 8 who are at least 4'9" tall can be placed in a regular seat belt.

    The fine for this offense is $25 for a first offense and $250 for a second offense. The law also includes an increase in court costs to provide child safety seats for low income families.

  • Wireless Communication (Cell Phones and Texting)

  • HB 55 makes it illegal for any driver to use a cell phone while in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or the driver is using a hands free device.

    A permitted defense to prosecution under this law is if the driver was making an emergency call.

Teen Drivers/Minors

HB 2730 requires that all applicants under the age of 18 take the driving skills exam to receive a driver license.

The law requires that a provisional driver's license or instruction permit expire on the individual's 18th birthday. It also removed the requirement that a provisional driver's license or instruction permit be renewed every year. The fee for those licenses increases from $5 to $15.

  • Graduated Driving Laws

  • HB 2730 extends the current phase-two restrictions for holders of a graduated driver's license from 6 months to 1 year. The restrictions include limits to night time driving and the number of passengers.

  • Wireless Communication

  • HB 2730 and HB 339 restrict all drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.

  • Crimes

  • HB 2730 closes a loophole so a person who commits an offense as a minor cannot circumvent the driver license penalty if the person turns 21 before their court date.

    HB 2730 provides that if a child is engaged in conduct involving a severe form of trafficking persons, a judge at a juvenile hearing is required to order the juvenile's driver license or permit to be suspended.

  • Boating While Intoxicated

  • SB 328 gives DPS the power to suspend a minor's driver license if they fail a breath or blood alcohol test while operating a watercraft. The Transportation Code clearly defines the suspension period for an individual who was under the age of 21 at the time when the offense of boating under the influence or driving under the influence of alcohol occurred. The law also increases the reinstatement fee for a license suspended under sections from $50 to $100.

Driver's Licenses
HB 2730 prohibits DPS from issuing a driver license or identification card to a person who has not established a domicile in Texas. The law specifies that an applicant may receive a driver license at a post office box only if the applicant's residence address has also been provided, with some exceptions.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
SB 129 authorizes neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) to be operated on roads with a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less. The bill authorizes driver license holders to operate NEVs without having a motorcycle endorsement, clarifies that drivers and passengers in such vehicles are not required to wear helmets and specifies that enclosed three-wheeled vehicles as described in the bill are authorized to operate in preferential lanes.

HB 537 prohibits a motorcycle operator from carrying a passenger under the age of 5 unless the child is seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.

SB 1967 requires that applicants for an original class M license or class A, B or C driver license (including commercial driver licenses and permits) with authorization to operate a motorcycle, provide evidence of completion of an approved motorcycle operator training course.

The law also removes the minimum limit of $10,000 in health insurance to be eligible to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. The rider must be at least 21 years of age and provide proof of an applicable health insurance plan.

The law increases the penalty for failure to yield the right-of-way if there is a crash that results in injury to a person other than the motorcycle operator.

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Blogger Windy Yohara said...

nice information, more safety to ride..

September 18, 2009 at 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so sinse i got my permit on the 25th of this month i have to wait a whole dam year to get my liscnse???? WTF

September 28, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

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