No Speed Limits in Texas
Believe it or not, there are no speed limits in Texas.
You may have heard me mention on the radio that “there are no speed limits in Texas.” I’ve received a ton of email on this issue. Read on, and you’ll see I’ve listed the two relevant Texas statutes. First, I’ll explain them, and then I’ll give you the full text of each:
Explanations of the statutes (both of which can be found in the Texas Transportation Code)…
1. Texas Transportation Code Section 545.351. MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT.
Subsections “(a)” and “(b)(1)” are the speeding statutes in Texas. Basically, they say that you’re “speeding” if you’re driving at a rate of speed that is “unreasonable and imprudent under the circumstances then existing.”
2. Texas Transportation Code Section 545.352 PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS.
This statute says that a posted “speed limit” is “prima facie” proof that you’re guilty of speeding (i.e., that the speed at which you are traveling is “unreasonable and imprudent under the circumstances then existing”). “Prima facie” means “sufficient to establish a fact or case unless disproved” or “at first sight; before closer inspection.” In other words, if, upon “closer inspection” there is sufficient evidence that the speed at which you are traveling is NOT “unreasonable and imprudent under the circumstances then existing,” YOU ARE NOT SPEEDING UNDER TEXAS LAW.
Hence, simply because you’re driving 75 in a 60 m.p.h. zone, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re “speeding.” If it’s not “unreasonable and imprudent under the circumstance then existing” to do so, you can lawfully drive 75 m.p.h. Think about the times you’ve “gone with the flow” of traffic, even though everyone was going faster than the posted “speed limit.” Were all of you being unreasonable?
Thus, there are no speed limits in Texas, in that you can (in certain situations) lawfully drive at a rate of speed greater than what is indicated by the posted speed limit sign. Rather, posted speed limits are the presumptive legal speed for the stretch of roadway to which they pertain… a presumption which can be rebutted by proof that you were driving in a way that was not unreasonable under the circumstances. However, please understand that you can be cited for speeding, and brought to trial, if it’s alleged that you were driving above the presumptive legal speed. Whether or not the jury (or, in some cases, the judge) convicts you depends on whether or not they believe you were driving in a “reasonable” manner.
Okay, enough chatter. Here are the statutes:
§ 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.
(b) An operator:
(1) may not drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is
reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for
actual and potential hazards then existing; and
(2) shall control the speed of the vehicle as
necessary to avoid colliding with another person or vehicle that is
on or entering the highway in compliance with law and the duty of
each person to use due care.
(c) An operator shall, consistent with Subsections (a) and
(b), drive at an appropriate reduced speed if:
(1) the operator is approaching and crossing an
intersection or railroad grade crossing;
(2) the operator is approaching and going around a
(3) the operator is approaching a hill crest;
(4) the operator is traveling on a narrow or winding
(5) a special hazard exists with regard to traffic,
including pedestrians, or weather or highway conditions.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended
by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, § 30.109, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
§ 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.
Text of subsec. (b) as amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 663, § 2 and Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 739, § 1