Texas New Resident Guide

Welcome to the Lone Star State – Texas! As you embark on your driving journey here, it's pivotal to be aware of our distinct traffic regulations and traditions. Here's a brief guide to help you traverse Texas' expansive terrains, from its rolling hill country to its bustling urban centers. Many rules might resonate with your previous experiences, but it's beneficial to stay informed about Texan specificities.


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Licensing and Residency Requirements


  • A person who enters Texas as a new resident may operate a motor vehicle in the state for no more than 90 days after the date on which the person enters the state if the person is at least 16 years of age and has in his possession a driver's license issued to him by his state or country of previous residence.
  • A person must notify the DPS of a change of address or change of name within 30 days.
  • You have 30 days from the time you move here to register your vehicle in the state.
  • You are required to obtain your Texas driver's license from the Texas Department of Public Safety within 90 days of moving here.

Graduated Licensing Program


Learner's Permit


  • Must be at least 15;
  • Must be enrolled in driver's education;
  • Must pass vision, sign recognition, and knowledge tests.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only operate a vehicle when supervised by a person occupying the seat next to the operator who holds a license that qualifies the operator to operate that type of vehicle, is 21 years old, and has at least 1 year of driving experience.


Intermediate License


  • Must be at least 16;
  • Must have held learner's permit for at least 6 months;
  • Must have accumulated 30 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice, with 10 hours at night.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unsupervised between midnight and 5 AM, except if necessary for employment, a school-related activity, or a medical emergency.
  • May not transport more than 1 passenger under age 21 (except family).
  • Are prohibited from using a cellphone until age 18, except in case of emergency.


Unrestricted License


  • Once a teen has held driver's license for 1 year or reached age 18, whichever comes first, restrictions are lifted.

Violation Point Counts


  • Two points are assessed for a Texas or out-of-state traffic conviction.
  • Three points are assessed for a Texas or out-of-state traffic conviction that resulted in a crash.
  • Once the conviction has been added to the driver record, points are assigned and remain on the driver record for three years from the date of conviction.

Individuals who have six or more points on their driver record are assessed a surcharge every year they maintain six or more points. Surcharges amounts are:

  • $100 for the first six points on a driver record.
  • $25 for each additional point after six.

Texas' Driver Responsibility Program also requires that individuals who receive a conviction for one of the offenses listed in the chart below will pay an annual surcharge for three years from the date of conviction. Points are not assessed for these offenses because the surcharge is automatic upon conviction.

  • 1st Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Texas or out-of-state conviction for DWI, Intoxication Assault or Manslaughter $1,000.
  • Subsequent DWI Texas or out-of-state conviction for DWI, Intoxication Assault or Manslaughter $1,500.
  • DWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.16 or More Texas or out-of-state conviction $2,000.
  • No Insurance $250.
  • Driving While License Invalid (DWLI) Driver's license is canceled, suspended, denied, or revoked $250.
  • No Driver License No driver license or commercial driver license, an expired license or endorsement violation(s) $100.
  • The surcharge amount is assessed every year for three years.

Insurance Requirements


  • The Safety Responsibility Act was enacted to ensure all drivers are financially responsible for the death, injury, or property damage they may cause while operating a motor vehicle. All owners and/or operators of motor vehicles in Texas must have at least the minimum amount of liability insurance. Effective January 1, 2011, the minimum amount of liability insurance is:
    • $30,000 against injury or death of one person.
    • $60,000 against injury or death of two individuals.
    • $25,000 against property damage.
  • To comply with the Safety Responsibility Act, a driver, unless exempt, must maintain liability insurance or be self-insured under the provisions of the Act. Evidence of financial responsibility must be presented at the time a person applies for a driver's license, registers a motor vehicle, or obtains a motor vehicle inspection certificate.
  • Every owner or operator of a motor vehicle in Texas is required to furnish evidence of financial responsibility to a law enforcement officer or to another person involved in a crash upon request.

Headlight Laws


You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when within 300 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • Beginning 30 minutes after sunset and ending 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Anytime when individuals or vehicles cannot be seen clearly for at least 1,000 feet.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.

Implied Consent Laws


  • First Refusal - Suspension 180 days.
  • Subsequent Refusal (within 10 years) Suspension 2 years.
  • Occupational License: If a person has not had a prior "alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contact," within 5 years of the arrest, an occupational license may be issued at any time based on essential need. If a person had had a prior "alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contact," within 5 years such a license is not available until the person’s license has been suspended for at least 90 days. An occupational license is only available once in a 10-year period.

DUI Penalties


First Offense (Class B misdemeanor)

  • 72 hours - 180 days imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,000 fine;
  • Up to 100 hours community service;
  • 90 days - 1 year license suspension;
  • Court may require ignition interlock.


First Offense (BAC .15 or more) (Class A misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • Up to $4,000 fine;
  • Up to 200 hours community service;
  • 90 days - 1 year license suspension;
  • 1 year ignition interlock.


Second Offense (within 5 years)(Class A misdemeanor)

  • 30 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • Up to $4,000 fine;
  • Up to 200 hours community service;
  • 1 - 2 years license suspension;
  • 1 year ignition interlock.


Second Offense (with a prior Intoxication Manslaughter within 5 years) (Third-degree felony)

  • 2 - 10 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $10,000 fine;
  • Up to 600 hours community service;
  • 1 - 2 years license suspension;
  • 1 year ignition interlock.


Third Offense (within 5 years) (Third-degree felony)

  • 2 - 10 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $10,000 fine;
  • Up to 600 hours community service;
  • 1 - 2 years license suspension;
  • 1 year ignition interlock.


Child Endangerment

  • A person driving while intoxicated with a passenger under 15 shall be sentenced to not less than 180 days or more than 2 years and possibly a fine of not more than $10,000.


Alcohol Education/Treatment

  • For any DWI offense, including Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter as a condition of community supervision, an offender is required to complete an alcohol education program. This requirement may be waived upon a showing of good cause by the offender.
  • Felony offenders (third or subsequent DWI offenses, Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter) may be confined in a substance abuse treatment facility in lieu of imprisonment from 90 days to 1 year.

Open Container Law


Texas's open container law states that a person commits an offense if the person "knowingly" possesses an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.

Red Light Violation Fines


  • Traditional enforcement: $200 maximum fine.
  • Auto enforcement: $75 fine; not a criminal or record offense.

Construction Zone Penalties


All moving vehicle violations when workers are present are subject to an enhanced fine. The minimum fine is twice the original minimum fine, and the maximum fine is twice the original maximum fine.

Turn Signal Information


Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.

Hazard Light Information


Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.

Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws


  • Texas has no state law regarding the right of way for a funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions are not required to allow sufficient space between vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger.

School Bus Laws



  • Vehicles are required to stop unless on a highway with separate roadways and the bus is on a different roadway.



  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of $200 - $1,000 for a first offense.

Bicyclist Passing Distance


There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.

Motorcycle Laws



  • A Class M driver's license authorizes the holder to operate a motorcycle or moped.
  • An applicant required to take a motorcycle road test must provide a passenger vehicle and licensed driver to convey the license examiner during the road test. Operation of a three-wheeled motorcycle requires completion of a training course and a restricted Class M license.


Protective Gear

  • The operator and any passenger on a motorcycle or moped are required to wear an approved helmet. However, a person is exempt from wearing a helmet if the person is at least 21 years old, and has successfully completed a motorcycle operator and training safety course or is covered by at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of an accident while operating or riding on a motorcycle.



  • A motorcycle may not be operated at any time unless at least 1 headlamp is illuminated.


Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is not addressed in state law.

Using the Shoulder to Pass


You may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of the roadway if passing a vehicle that is slowing or stopped, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn.

Passing Laws


Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel;
  • When awaiting access to a ferry and signs are posted.


When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Speed Limits


  • Operating a vehicle in excess of the following speed limits is prima facie evidence that such speed is not reasonable and prudent and is unlawful.
  • 85 mph on part of a highway system if such part is designed to accommodate such speed and it is determined that the speed limit is reasonable and safe for that part of the highway system;
  • 80 mph on part of Interstate Highway 10 or Interstate Highway 20 in Crockett, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kerr, Kimble, Pecos, Reeves, Sutton, or Ward Counties;
  • 75 mph:
    • If established by the Texas Transportation Commission
  • 70 mph on "numbered" highways and farm/ranch-to-market roads outside an urban district;
    • These speed limits apply to passenger cars or motorcycles, passenger cars or light trucks towing a trailer bearing a vessel, passenger cars or light trucks towing a trailer used primarily to transport a motorcycle, or passenger cars or light trucks towing a trailer or semi-trailer used primarily to transport dogs or livestock. A "light truck" is defined as a truck with a carrying capacity of not more than 2,000 lbs., and includes pick-up trucks, panel delivery trucks and carry-all trucks.
  • 60 mph on highways that are not "numbered" and that are outside of an urban district;
  • 30 mph in an urban district;
  • 15 mph in an alley, on a beach, or on a road adjacent to a public beach if declared by the commissioners court of the county.

Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws


Safety Belts

  • Occupants 7 years and younger who are 57 inches or taller, and occupants 8 years and older, must use safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $200.


Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger who are less than 57 inches tall must use a child seat, and may not use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The minimum fine for a first offense is $25, and there is no listed maximum fine.

Emergency Vehicle Laws


Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle;
    • Tow truck;
    • Department of Transportation vehicle.
  • You must do the following:
    • Vacate the lane closest to the vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the vehicle, or;
    • Slow to a speed not to exceed:
      • 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more; or
      • Five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is less than 25 miles per hour.



  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.
  • Do not follow an ambulance flashing red lights closer than 500 feet.


Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • If there has only been property damage, and the vehicle is capable of being safely driven, it is the duty of the drivers involved to move the vehicles off the roadway.
  • If the crash resulted in injury or death, or a vehicle requires towing, you must report the accident immediately to the local police department, or county sheriff.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Name of vehicle liability insurer;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended vehicle or property:
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. You must also report the accident in writing.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 10 days after the accident, unless the accident was investigated by a law enforcement officer.