New Texas Traffic Laws Recently Enacted; Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Analyzes the Impact of the Changes

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Driving speed limits recently increased in Texas under House Bill 1353 and House Bill 1201. Dallas criminal defense lawyer Richard C. McConathy discusses the new laws and the potential criminal implication the traffic laws may have on drivers.

The new speed limit laws in Texas could potentially lead to an increased number of criminal traffic charges throughout the state, stated Richard C. McConathy, a criminal defense lawyer in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 82nd Texas legislature recently enacted several new traffic laws, including HB 1353 and HB 1201, which both increased the speed limits on many roads in Texas. Although the speed limit laws became effective in September and June, a study must be conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) before the speed limits across roads in Texas will increase. Dallas criminal defense lawyer Richard C. McConathy analyzes the new speed limit laws and the impact these limits may have on criminal traffic offenses in Texas.

“The most recent Texas speed limit law was passed this September, but Texas law enforcement officers have been told to keep enforcing the old speed limits until TxDOT is able to change speed limit signs throughout the state. This means an individual who believes the speed limit has already changed could be charged with a traffic offense, such as excessive speeding or even reckless driving,” stated Richard C. McConathy, a Fort Worth traffic crime defense attorney.

House Bill 1353 changed section 545.352(b) of the Texas Transportation Code by eliminating a different speed limit at night. The speed will now remain at 70 miles per hour (mph) instead of decreasing from 70 mph to 65 mph on many highways at night. Additionally, the text of HB 1353 changes the maximum speed limits allowed in Texas from 70 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour on highways in the state.

HB 1353 only permits the Texas Department of Transportation to increase the state’s speed limits upon a speed study showing the new speeds are reasonable and safe for that part of the highway system.

Additionally, HB 1201, which was enacted in June, amended the Texas Transportation Code by permitting speed limits up to 85 miles per hour on certain state highways that are designed to accommodate travel at that speed. The increased speed limits are only allowed after a speed study has been conducted showing the limits are reasonable and safe.

According to McConathy, a Dallas lawyer for driving with a suspended license, “The new speed limit laws in Texas could potentially lead to an increased number of criminal traffic charges throughout the state. Many individuals have heard of the increased speed limit laws, but the changes are not applicable until new speed limits signs have been posted and a speed study has been conducted. This will lead to an increase in many inadvertent criminal traffic offenses, such as vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and excessive speeding.”

The Texas Department of Transportation expects to have all speed studies conducted by the beginning of 2013 to determine if higher speed limits are reasonable and safe, in addition to changing any posted speed limit signs in Texas.

Richard C. McConathy of the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy is a criminal defense lawyer in Dallas who represents individuals accused of Criminal Traffic Offenses, Reckless Driving, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Vehicular Homicide, Driving with a Suspended License and Fleeing and Eluding throughout northeast Texas, including Dallas County and the surrounding areas of Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Arlington, Plano, McKinney, Grand Prairie, Frisco, Denton, Grapevine and Lewisville.

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