The Common Law

New Traffic Laws

New Traffic Laws

Last week's "Common Law" column introduced some of the new Texas traffic laws that took effect on Sept. 1. For example, use of wireless communication devices in a school zone is now prohibited. In addition, all occupants of a car, no matter their ages, must be secured by a safety belt, regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle.

In an effort to help you drive safely and avoid tickets, here are some other new traffic laws worth knowing before you get on the road.

The Texas Legislature amended the requirements for child safety seats. The new law requires that children be restrained in an approved child passenger safety seat unless the child is at least 8 years old or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches. A first-time offender can be fined up to $25, but that increases to $250 for a second offense. Funds from a new court cost for conviction of this offense will be collected and used by the state to buy safety seats for low-income families. While the law became effective on Sept. 1, tickets for this offense cannot be issued until June 1, 2010. Police officers may issue verbal or written warnings before that date.

The Texas Legislature also increased the penalties for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger by adding an automatic driver's license suspension period for first-time offenders; repeat offenders face an even longer suspension period. Additionally, the fee for completing an education program to reinstate one's driver's license will increase from $50 to $100. A former loophole allowing a person who committed an offense as a minor to circumvent the driver's license penalty if the person turned 21 before his or her court date has also now been closed.

Check out the Texas Department of Public Safety's website ( for more information on all new Texas traffic laws. Know the law, and drive safe.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP,

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle