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Understanding How Speed Limits Work in Houston

A speeding ticket is perhaps the most common traffic violation committed by Houston-area residents. And if you have just received your first ticket, you may be shocked by the amount of the fine. You may also be unaware of your legal rights to challenge the ticket in court. So here is a brief overview of how the laws work here in Houston.

Higher Fines for Speeding in School, Construction Zones

Section 545.352 of the Texas Transportation Code sets default speed limits for the entire state. This includes a 30 miles per hour limit on any street in an “urban district” (or 15 miles per hour in an alley). On a federal or state highway outside of an urban district, the default limit is 70 miles per hour.

Note these are defaults and may be altered for specific roads, either by the Texas Transportation Commission or individual municipalities. Many cities like Houston also have special rules for roads in-and-around public schools. Within such “school zones,” the posted speed limit can be as low as 15 miles per hour when school is in session.

In addition, there are additional fines that may apply to speeding in a “construction zone.” This is defined as an area–marked by appropriate signage–where workers are actively performing highway construction or maintenance. In some parts of Texas, you can be fined double the normal amount for speeding in a construction zone.

The actual amount of a speeding ticket therefore depends on where the traffic violation occurred, as well as how far the driver was over the posted limit. In the City of Houston, for example, speeding ticket fines start at $194 for drivers who are between 1 and 5 miles over a posted speed limit. This fine increases to $224 for speeding in a school zone and $239 in a construction zone (again, only if workers are actually present at the time).

At the upper end of Houston’s scale, a driver who is 30 or more miles over the posted speed limit faces a fine of $304 in a normal zone, $329 in a school zone, and $504 in a construction zone.

Get Advice From a Houston Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyer Today

A traffic ticket is basically a summons to appear in court to face a misdemeanor traffic violation charge. Many people skip the court appearance and simply pay the fine. But you have every right to fight the ticket in court. You may even request a jury trial.

And if you think fighting a speeding ticket is pointless, consider that there are many cases where the speed limit posted is not necessarily correct. In a 2017 report, KHOU-TV discovered hundreds of speeding tickets–totaling more than $54,000–were issued to drivers who were actually traveling below the legal speed limit. The reason for this is that speed limit signs are often “mismatched” to what local ordinances actually require.

So if you have received a ticket, do not simply assume you have no recourse. Speak with an experienced Houston traffic violations attorney who can review the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need immediate assistance. Call (713) 802-1631.