Statutory Breakdown of “Speeding” Allegation Elements in Texas

chevrolet-impala-ss-001-HRWhat are the statutory elements required to actually ALLEGE and PROVE a “speeding” offense in Texas? Believe it or not, there are actually 21 individual statutory elements. Yes, that is a two (2) and a one (1). And it is my experience that the STATE knowingly and intentionally avoids providing the required due process Notice of more than two thirds of them in the criminal complaint and other charging instruments.

Which also means that they are denying the Accused in his/her due process right to Notice and defense of those elements, while also making their job as prosecutor unconstitutionally and illegally easier by not having to prove those that they fail or refuse to allege.

This article is intended to teach you how to perform legal analysis and observation in a “connect the dots” fashion.  Read the statutes below and make your own conclusions about the necessary elements as I have listed them. But, while you do so, be sure to ask yourself how both the court and the prosecution can meet their individual burdens of ensuring that the Accused’s right of due process, including the right of proper, sufficient and timely Notice, are properly met under the statutes, as well as how they are not according to how they actually file the complaint.  And I’ll preface that by pointing out this example.

The STATE cannot rely solely upon the elements asserted in Sec. 545.351(a) OR Sec. 545.352 as the basis for the allegation.

The exercise here is for you to figure out and recognize WHY that is and use it to make a defense according to the remaining statutory provisions.

Here are the individual elements that are actually required to be stated in a valid complaint and proven in a Texas “speeding” allegation according to the various interrelated statutes that follow. Consider that a criminal complaint that fails to state each of these elements is insufficient on its face in substance, as it fails to assert the necessary factual elements that would comprise the required legal Notice to the Accused, as well as that of what the state is required to both allege and prove for the allegation. These are direct violations of the right of due process and a total failure of the state to fully meet its burden of Notice and proof.

  • Who (your name),
  • Where (within the geographical boundaries of the city/county of…),
  • When (on April 1, 2016),
  • Did then and there,
  • What (specific regulated subject matter (while engaging in “transportation”)),
  • While [allegedly] acting as an “operator,”
  • Did [allegedly] “drive” (not “operate” like most complaints allege),
  • A[n alleged] “motor vehicle,”
  • Upon a highway of this state,
  • At a[n alleged] speed of xx,
  • Where the posted speed limit was xxx,
  • Which was [allegedly] greater than reasonable and prudent,
  • Under the circumstances and,
  • Conditions then existing,
  • And [allegedly] without regard for actual and potential hazards then existing,
  • Did [allegedly] fail in his duty to exercise due care,
  • By [allegedly] failing to avoid a collision,
  • With another
    1. Person, or
      1. To wit (the injured person’s name),
    2. Vehicle
      1. To wit (the vehicle year, make and model),
  • That was [allegedly]
    1. Traveling on the highway, or
    2. Entering the highway
  • In compliance with law.

At first you will probably see that the breakdown of Secs. 545.351 and 545.352 below look to be like either a bad web page render or is just a series of random and nonsensical breaks in sentence structure. But, if you really look at where and how the breaks in the sentence structure are done, you will see that it is broken down by its statutory parameters of conditions and objects. By breaking a statute down this way, it helps you greatly in clarifying and understanding how it actually reads and what it all means.


TRANSPORTATION CODE

TITLE 7. VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC

SUBTITLE C. RULES OF THE ROAD

CHAPTER 545. OPERATION AND MOVEMENT OF
VEHICLES

SUBCHAPTER
A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec. 545.351.  MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT.

(a)  An
operator
may
not
drive
at
a speed
greater
than
is

reasonable
and
prudent

under
the circumstances
then
existing
.

(b)  An operator:

(1)  may not
drive
a vehicle
at
a speed
greater
than
is
reasonable and
prudent

under
the conditions and
having
regard
for
actual and
potential
hazards

then
existing
;  and

(2)  shall
control
the speed

of
the vehicle
as
necessary
to
avoid
colliding

with
another
person

or
vehicle
that
is
on
or
entering
the highway

in
compliance
with
law
and
the duty
of
each
person

to
use
due care
.

(c)  An operator
shall,
consistent
with
Subsections (a) and
(b),
drive
at
an
appropriate
reduced speed
if:

(1)  the operator
is
approaching and
crossing
an
intersection
or
railroad grade crossing;

(2)  the operator
is
approaching and
going
around
a curve;

(3)  the operator
is
approaching
a hill crest;

(4)  the operator
is
traveling on
a narrow
or
winding roadway;  and

(5)  a special hazard
exists
with
regard
to
traffic,
including
pedestrians,
or
weather
or
highway conditions.


Sec. 545.352.  PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS.

(a)  A speed
in excess
of
the limits
established by
Subsection (b)
or
under another provision
of
this
subchapter
is
prima facie evidence
that
the speed
is
not
reasonable and
prudent and
that
the speed
is
unlawful.

(b)  Unless
a special hazard
exists
that
requires
a slower speed
for
compliance
with
Section 545.351(b),
the following speeds
are
lawful:

(1)  30 miles per hour
in
an urban district
on
a street
other
than
an
alley and
15 miles per hour
in
an
alley;

(2)  except
as
provided by
Subdivision (4),
70 miles per hour
on
a highway
numbered by
this state
or
the United States
outside
an
urban district,
including
a farm-to-market
or
ranch-to-market
road;

(3)  except
as provided by
Subdivision (4),
60 miles per hour
on
a highway
that
is
outside
an
urban district and
not
a highway
numbered by
this state
or
the United States;

(4)   outside an
urban district:

(A)  60 miles per hour
if
the vehicle
is
a school bus
that
has passed
a commercial motor vehicle inspection
under
Section 548.201 and
is
on
a highway
numbered by
the United States
or
this state,
including
a farm-to-market road;
or

(B)  50 miles per hour
if
the vehicle
is
a school bus
that:

(i)  has
not
passed
a commercial motor vehicle inspection
under
Section 548.201;
or

(ii)  is traveling
on
a highway
not
numbered by
the United States
or
this state;

(5)  on
a beach,
15 miles per hour;
or

(6)  on
a county road
adjacent to
a public beach,
15 miles per hour,
if
declared by
the commissioners court
of
the county.

(c)  The speed limits
for
a bus
or
other vehicle
engaged
in
the business
of
transporting passengers
for
compensation
or
hire,
for
a commercial vehicle
used as
a highway post office vehicle
for
highway post office service
in
the transportation
of
United States mail,
for
a light truck, and
for
a school activity bus
are
the same
as
required
for
a passenger car
at
the same time and
location.

(d)  In
this section:

(1)  “Interstate highway”
means
a segment
of
the national system
of
interstate and
defense highways
that
is:

(A)  located
in
this state;

(B)  officially designated by
the Texas Transportation Commission;  and

(C)  approved under
Title 23, United States Code.

(2)  “Light truck”
means
a truck
with
a manufacturer’s
rated carrying capacity
of
not
more
than
2,000 pounds,
including
a pick-up truck,
panel delivery truck, and
carry-all truck.

(3)  “Urban district”
means
the territory
adjacent
to and
including
a highway,
if
the territory
is
improved
with
structures
that
are
used for
business,
industry,
or
dwelling houses and
are
located
at
intervals
of
less than
100 feet
for
a distance
of
at least
one-quarter mile
on
either side
of
the highway.

(e)  An entity
that
establishes
or
alters
a speed limit
under
this
subchapter
shall
establish
the same
speed limit
for
daytime and
nighttime.



Now, using the example above of how to break down a statute in order to understand it better, read these statutes and practice breaking them down in the same manner. Don’t worry about how hard it seems at first, because the more you practice doing it, the easier and more natural it feels and becomes. You will be surprised how much easier it gets.

And you will be even more surprised at how you will translate this practice into virtually everything you read. You will gain insight and understanding in written matter that you never knew you were capable of, and how few other people actually understand the things they are reading because they don’t do it. And that especially applies to attorneys.



TRANSPORTATION
CODE

TITLE
7. VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC

SUBTITLE
B. DRIVER’S LICENSES AND PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS

CHAPTER
522. COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSES

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.
522.003.  DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:

(3)  “Commercial driver’s license” means
a license issued to an individual that authorizes the individual to drive a
class of commercial motor vehicle.

(4)  “Commercial learner’s permit” means
a permit that restricts the holder to driving a commercial motor vehicle as
provided by Section 522.011(a)(2)(B).

(5)  “Commercial motor vehicle” means a
motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used to transport passengers or
property that:

(A)  has a gross combination weight or a gross
combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, including a towed unit with
a gross vehicle weight or a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds;

(B)  has a gross vehicle weight or a gross vehicle
weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds;

(C)  is designed to transport 16 or more
passengers, including the driver; or

(D)  is transporting hazardous materials and is
required to be placarded under 49 C.F.R. Part 172, Subpart F.

(8)  “Department
means the Department of Public Safety.

(9)  “Disqualify” means to withdraw the
privilege to drive a commercial motor vehicle, including to suspend, cancel, or
revoke that privilege under a state or federal law.

(10)  “Domicile” means the place where a
person has the person’s true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence
and to which the person intends to return whenever absent.

(11)  “Drive
means to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle.

(12)  “Driver’s
license
” has the meaning assigned by Section 521.001, except the term does not include a commercial learner’s
permit unless otherwise provided by this chapter.

(13)  “Drug” has the meaning assigned by
Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.

(14)  “Employer” means a person who owns
or leases a commercial motor vehicle or assigns a person to drive a commercial
motor vehicle.

(15)  “Federal act” means the Commercial
Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (49 U.S.C. App. Section 2701 et seq.).

(16)  “Foreign jurisdiction” means a
jurisdiction other than a state.

(17)  “Gross combination weight rating”
means the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a
combination or articulated vehicle or, if the manufacturer has not specified a
value, the sum of the gross vehicle weight rating of the power unit and the
total weight of the towed unit or units and any load on a towed unit.

(18)  “Gross vehicle weight rating” means
the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single
vehicle.

(19)  “Hazardous materials” has the
meaning assigned by 49 C.F.R. Section 383.5.

(20)  Repealed by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 941,
Sec. 43, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

(21)  “Motor
vehicle
” means a vehicle, machine, tractor, trailer, or
semitrailer propelled or drawn by mechanical power and used on a highway.  The term does not include a vehicle, machine,
tractor, trailer, or semitrailer operated exclusively on a rail.

(22)  “Non-domiciled commercial driver’s
license” means a commercial driver’s license issued by a state to an
individual who is domiciled in a foreign jurisdiction.

(22-a)  “Non-domiciled commercial learner’s
permit” means a commercial learner’s permit issued by a state to an
individual who is domiciled in a foreign jurisdiction.

(23)  “Out-of-service order” means:

(A)  a temporary prohibition against driving a
commercial motor vehicle issued under Section 522.101, the law of another state, 49 C.F.R. Section 383.5,
386.72, 392.5, 392.9a, 395.13, or 396.9, a law compatible with those federal
regulations, or the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria; or

(B)  a declaration by the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration or an authorized enforcement officer of a state or local
jurisdiction that a driver, commercial motor vehicle, or motor carrier
operation is out of service under 49 C.F.R. Section 383.5, 386.72, 392.5,
392.9a, 395.13, or 396.9, a law compatible with those federal regulations, or
the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.

(23-a)  “Person
includes the United States, a state, or a political subdivision of a state.

(24)  “Secretary” means the United States
secretary of transportation.

(24-a)  “Seed cotton module” means
compacted seed cotton in any form.

(25)  “Serious traffic violation” means:

(A)  a conviction arising from the driving of a
motor vehicle, other than a parking, vehicle weight, or vehicle defect
violation, for:

(i)  excessive speeding, involving a single charge
of driving 15 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit;

(ii)  reckless driving, as defined by state or
local law;

(iii)  a violation of a state or local law related
to motor vehicle traffic control, including a law regulating the operation of
vehicles on highways, arising in connection with a fatal accident;

(iv)  improper or erratic traffic lane change;

(v)  following the vehicle ahead too closely;  or

(vi)  a violation of Sections 522.011 or 522.042;  or

(B)  a violation of Section 522.015.

(26)  “State” means a state of the
United States or the District of Columbia.


Sec. 201.904.  SPEED SIGNS.
The department shall erect and maintain on the highways and roads of this state appropriate signs that show the maximum lawful speed for commercial motor vehicles, truck tractors, truck trailers, truck semitrailers, and motor vehicles engaged in the business of transporting passengers for compensation or hire (buses).


TRANSPORTATION CODE

TITLE 7. VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC

SUBTITLE C. RULES OF THE ROAD

CHAPTER 541. DEFINITIONS

SUBCHAPTER
A. PERSONS AND GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES

 

Sec.
541.001.  PERSONS.  In this subtitle:

(1)  Operator” means, as used in reference to a vehicle, a person who drives or has physical control of a vehicle.

(2)  “Owner” means, as used in reference
to a vehicle, a person who has a property interest in or title to a
vehicle.  The term:

(A)  includes a person entitled to use and possess
a vehicle subject to a security interest;
and

(B)  excludes a lienholder and a lessee whose
lease is not intended as security.

(3)  “Pedestrian” means a person on
foot.

(4)  “Person” means an individual, firm, partnership, association, or corporation.

(5)  “School crossing guard” means a responsible
person who is at least 18 years of age and is designated by a local authority
to direct traffic in a school crossing zone for the protection of children
going to or leaving a school.


Sec. 24.013.  AIRCRAFT FUEL CONTAINERS;  OFFENSE.

(a)  A person commits an offense if the person
operates or intends to operate an aircraft equipped with:

(1)  a fuel container that the person knows does
not conform to federal aviation regulations or that has not been approved by
the Federal Aviation Administration by inspection or special permit;  or

(2)  a pipe, hose, or auxiliary pump that is used
or intended for transferring fuel to the primary fuel system of an aircraft
from a fuel container that the person knows does not conform to federal
aviation regulations or that has not been approved by the Federal Aviation
Administration by inspection or special permit.

(b)  An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony
of the third degree.

(c)  A peace officer may seize an aircraft
equipped with a fuel container that is the subject of an offense under
Subsection (a).

(d)  An aircraft seized under Subsection (c) may
be forfeited to the Department of Public Safety in the same manner as property
subject to forfeiture under Article 18.18, Code of Criminal Procedure.

(e)  An aircraft forfeited under Subsection (d) is
subject to Chapter 2205, Government Code.

(f)  In this section:

(1)  “Federal aviation regulations”
means the following regulations adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration
as those regulations existed on September 1, 1985, except a regulation in
existence on September 1, 1985, that is inconsistent with a regulation adopted
after that date:

(A)  certification procedures for products and
parts, 14 C.F.R. Part 21;

(B)  maintenance, preventive maintenance,
rebuilding, and alteration regulations, 14 C.F.R. Part 43;  and

(C)  general operating and flight rules, 14 C.F.R.
Part 91.

(2)  Operate” means to use, cause to use, or authorize to use an aircraft for air navigation and includes:

(A)  the piloting of an aircraft, with or without
the right of legal control;

(B)  the taxiing of an aircraft before takeoff or
after landing;  and

(C)  the postflight or preflight inspection or
starting of the engine of an aircraft.


Sec.
541.002.  GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES.  In this subtitle:

(1)  “Department” means the Department
of Public Safety acting directly or through its authorized officers and agents.

(2)  “Director” means the public safety
director.

(3)  “Local authority” means:

(A)  a county, municipality, or other local entity
authorized to enact traffic laws under the laws of this state;  or

(B)  a school district created under the laws of
this state only when it is designating school crossing guards for schools
operated by the district.

(4)  “Police officer” means an officer
authorized to direct traffic or arrest persons who violate traffic regulations.

(5)  “State” has the meaning assigned by
Section 311.005, Government Code, and includes a province of Canada.


TRANSPORTATION CODE

TITLE 7. VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC

SUBTITLE J. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

CHAPTER 724. IMPLIED CONSENT

SUBCHAPTER
A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.
724.001.  DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:

(1)  “Alcohol concentration” has the
meaning assigned by Section 49.01, Penal Code.

(2)  “Arrest” includes the taking into
custody of a child, as defined by Section 51.02, Family Code.

(3)  “Controlled substance” has the
meaning assigned by Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.

(4)  “Criminal charge” includes a charge
that may result in a proceeding under Title 3, Family Code.

(5)  “Criminal proceeding” includes a
proceeding under Title 3, Family Code.

(6)  “Dangerous drug” has the meaning
assigned by Section 483.001, Health and Safety Code.

(7)  “Department” means the Department
of Public Safety.

(8)  “Drug” has the meaning assigned by
Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.

(9)  “Intoxicated” has the meaning
assigned by Section 49.01, Penal Code.

(10)  “License” has the meaning assigned
by Section 521.001.

(11)  Operate” means to drive or be in actual control of a motor vehicle or watercraft.

(12)  “Public place” has the meaning
assigned by Section 1.07, Penal Code.


Download DOC FileBreakdown of Elements in a Speeding Charge

Download PDFCriminal Complaint

7 thoughts on “Statutory Breakdown of “Speeding” Allegation Elements in Texas

  1. Would have been nice to see you draw out the conclusions based on 1) you’re identifying the 21 statutory elements and 2) the code sections sited. I get it but I’ve been looking and researching for 10 years on this stuff. Newbies are sitting here going ummm, doh – now what?

    It would be nice to see you explain in plain English how a “person” isn’t a man or a woman but a commercial entity based on the definition and the rules about “includes” and “including” being terms of limited expansion.

    Just a thought. Or maybe you can make this into a teaching exercise and get people’s responses to see how they are thinking and then post the correct responses to the 21 elements…

    JMHO…

    Like

    • That is not a correct position and argument, as the “person” in these statutes is not a “commercial entity, like a buyer or a seller, but a legal one, as in “driver” and “operator.”

      It is also incorrect in that while the capacity itself exists only as a legal fiction, it DOES require an actual living man or woman to assume the duties and liabilities of the position in order for it to have the ability to act.

      You are also reading OUTSIDE of the definition specifically created by the statute, which will get you nowhere in your argument. You have to use what they have created to prove why it has limits upon whom and to what it can really apply.

      And for my purposes here, this IS a teaching exercise about learning how to READ and INTERPRET statutory meaning within the confines of individual rights and court opinions.

      I also fully understand the “now what” that some will be going through, as I was once there myself. But they still have to learn it if they plan on fighting for themselves, at least until we manage to regain control of our out-of-control in every respect system of government.

      Like

  2. 49 C.F.R. Sec. 398.1
    69 FR 64134 Sec. 398.1 Definitions.

    (d) Motor vehicle. “Motor vehicle” means any vehicle, machine, tractor, trailer, or semitrailer propelled or drawn by mechanical power and used upon the highways in the transportation of passengers or property, or any combination thereof, determined by the Administration, but does not include a passenger automobile or station wagon, any vehicle, locomotive, or car operated exclusively on a rail or or a trolley bus operated by electric power derived from a fixed overhead wire, furnishing local passenger transportation in street-railway service.

    (e) Bus. “Bus” means any motor vehicle designed, constructed, and used for the transportation of passengers: Except passenger automobiles or station wagons and taxicabs
    (i) Driver or operator. “Driver or operator” means any person who drives any motor vehicle.

    { passenger automobile(s) or station wagon(s) cannot be “driven”}

    Like

    • Why are you quoting from a federal statute when I have provided the state statute itself?

      The federal definitions apply until and unless you manage to prove that they are the source of those at the state level. I can show where that is for Texas, have you done it for where you live? Until you can you shouldn’t be using them as if they are authoritative.

      Like

  3. my question has to do with the posted sign….The “Department” posts signs recommending speed limit..how can the posted limit be used as Law…None of the people working for them {the Department} are Legislative….Only Legislators can make Laws according to state constitution…so in essence it is only a recommendation or suggestion or an policy…i see nowhere an actual number that applies to all highways…if any idiot can put up a sign with a number on it and call that law we really are in trouble

    Like

    • Because the posted limit, supposedly, IS already defined by law upon that particular classification of roadway under Sec. 545.352, Texas “Transportation” Code, using the methods established for determining the proper speed limits that would presume to vary, if any variance exists.

      So the ‘department’ DIDN’T make that determination, the legislature did.

      But you should ALSO be aware of Sec. 201.904, Texas “Transportation” Code to see to just whom those signs were intended to convey notice of the proper speed for them to ‘use’ that stretch of roadway.

      Like

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