Several new traffic-related laws kick in this week in Texas

| 8/30/2005

Texas lawmakers have wrapped up their work for the year, but not before approving several notable traffic laws that are scheduled to go into effect Thursday, Sept. 1.

They include the following:

HB51 requires installation of an ignition interlock device if driver is found guilty of having a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher.

HB754 closes the loophole that prevents police from cracking down on tarping laws. It allows police to ticket anyone not covering their load of loose material with a tarp, whether it’s in the process of spilling something or not. It also allows judges to increase fines for violations.

HB1481 creates a traffic violation for driving around a barricade put on the road because of dangerous conditions. It also makes it a Class B misdemeanor if a person drives around a barricade that has been placed on the roadway because of water.

HB1484 specifies that a person commits a traffic offense, if they are involved in an accident on a freeway and fail to move their vehicle, if it is drivable, to an area clear of traffic.

HB2257 allows the Texas Transportation Commission to establish a daytime speed limit of 80 mph for personal vehicles on certain stretches of Interstates 10 and 20 in western Texas. Trucks would continue to be restricted to the current 70 mph limit posted in those areas.

SB1005 provides that a moving violation committed by a driver younger than 25 years of age would require the driver to complete a driving safety course. If the driver holds a provisional license, they must submit to a road test. Failure by the driver to fulfill the obligation would result in a conviction for that traffic offense.

SB1257 disqualifies a person from holding a commercial driver’s license if the person’s driving “is determined to constitute an imminent hazard.” It also makes it illegal for young drivers to use cell phones for the first six months that they have a license. And it prohibits passenger bus drivers transporting minors from talking on the phone, except in an emergency.

SB1258 specifies that a CDL or commercial driver learner’s permit expire in five years instead of six years.

SB1670 requires the Texas Department of Insurance, in consultation with other agencies, to establish a verification program of whether vehicle owners have auto insurance. It is intended to reduce the number of uninsured drivers.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor