Driving laws vary from state to state. For example, in many states, operating a motor vehicle while holding a dog in your lap is illegal. In Texas, there is no law against that specifically, although distracted driving is against the law, regardless of the cause.

It is also not against the law for your dog to ride in the bed of your pickup truck in Texas, although some cities, like Dallas, have ordinances against it.

This is another interesting thing about Texas traffic law.  In Texas, if you pay for your ticket, you are admitting guilt. Some of us feel a ticket is unjust but to avoid further drama we just pay the fine.  It is important to understand that if you do that in Texas you are admitting guilt.  The offense will stay on your driving record for at least three years.

With that being said, there are some bizarre driving laws in Texas

1) All Vehicles require windshield wipers, but not a windshield

One would think that making it illegal to operate a vehicle without windshield wipers assumes that the car has a windshield in the first place.  In Texas, this is not the case. There is no law in the book requiring a windshield.  There are, however, laws that require windshield wipers.

car in pursuit

2) You can pass on the shoulder

If you're driving on a two-lane road in most states, and the car in front of you slows or stops to make a left-hand turn, the only legal thing you can do is wait. In Texas, however, it is legal to pass the vehicle on the shoulder.


3) It is illegal to have anything protruding from your rear bumper unless attached with a chain

Just remember dragging a chain causes sparks and as dry as West Texas can be sparks can start wildfires which cause millions of dollars worth of damage statewide.

4) No U-turns unless you are visible within 500 feet of approaching traffic

Most Texas drivers assume U-turns are allowed.  In most cases, this is true, but not if the view of approaching traffic may be obscured. You must be visible within 500 feet, which is almost a tenth of a mile.

5) You must not leave your car unattended without the parking brake.

The code is § 545.404. It requires Texas drivers to set their parking brakes every time they leave their vehicles

6) It is illegal to leave your keys in your ignition

With newer cars, this is no longer an issue, but Texas Transportation Code 545.404 clearly forbids leaving the keys in the ignition. There are other laws in this code that also require

A) Stopping the engine

B) Locking the ignition

C) Removing the key from the ignition

D) Setting the parking brake effectively

E) If standing on a grade, turn the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.

Police Car Lights
Carolina K. Smith,M.D.

7) Using a mobile device while driving is illegal

Even if you're waiting for the green light, Texas law says you are operating a motor vehicle.  and picking up your mobile device is illegal.

8) Opening the doors while operating a vehicle is illegal.

Even if you're stopped at a stoplight and want to throw out your cold coffee or you just want to check to see if you're inside the lines in a parking spot, opening the doors while operating a vehicle is illegal. The engine must be off before you open the doors.

Of course, there are endless local driving laws in Texas that are bizarre.

For example, In Lubbock, if alcohol is "at arm's length" from the driver you can be cited.  That includes in a drunk person's bloodstream. So, if you're the designated driver, make your drunk passenger sit in the BACK seat.

In addition, if you ride a horse at night in Texarkana, make sure he has tail lights.

Photo by cucciolocavallo.com
Photo by cucciolocavallo.com

We can all think of additional things that should or should not be illegal while driving in Texas. Fortunately, if enough people feel passionate about something, it can always be taken to a local legislator to bring up in the Texas General Assembly.

It is always a good idea to know the law and drive safely.

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