As kids go back to school, Texas police step up school zone enforcement

With the return to school each fall comes the increased need for Texas drivers to be aware of school zone traffic laws and be vigilant in observing them - both to protect the safety of schoolchildren and to avoid the potential legal consequences of school zone violations in Texas.

Texas drivers who violate school zone laws can face steep penalties, even if no accident results from the violation. And, as with any traffic violation or other offense, ignorance of the law is a poor defense. Therefore, it is wise for Texas drivers to be aware of school zones and familiarize themselves with the applicable traffic laws in order to avoid violating them inadvertently.

Distracted driving

In Texas, unlike many other states, there is no state-wide law against texting or cellphone use for adult drivers. What some Texas drivers may not know, however, is that state law does prohibit talking and texting on cellphones while driving in a school zone. This provision applies not only to adult drivers, but also to teens and student drivers, who are often among those ticketed. Furthermore, the Texas Graduated Driver Licensing law bars all cellphone use for drivers under age 18, whether in a school zone or not.

Speeding

Speeding tickets can be a serious matter under any circumstances, but even more so when they involve speeding inside a school zone. Law enforcement officers in the Dallas/Fort Worth are aggressive about enforcing speed limits in school zones, often citing drivers for exceeding the speed limit by just a few miles per hour or less. This can result in steep fines, as well as increased insurance premiums and other potential consequences.

Failure to stop for a school bus

Texas law prohibits drivers from passing a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off students. If a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop sign extended, drivers may not pass from either direction until at least one of the following has occurred:

  • The school bus resumes motion
  • The bus driver indicates to the motorist that he or she may continue
  • The bus driver deactivates the vehicle's visual signals

Drivers are not required to stop for buses that are stopped on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Defending against traffic citations

In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, many new school zones have been added in recent years, making it all the more important for drivers to be alert and on the lookout for changes during back-to-school season. Each time a new school opens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, police say, complaints about school zone violations tend to increase.

If you or a family member has received a citation for a school zone violation in Texas, an experienced traffic violation lawyer may be able to help you defend against the charges and fight to minimize any negative consequences you may be facing.