To get their provisional licenses, they must be 16 years old and have had their learner’s licenses for at least six months. Teens are allowed to drive independently, but they need to abide by a handful of restrictions. Driving with their provisional licenses, they cannot do the following:
- Have more than one passenger who is under 21, excluding family
- Drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless traveling to or from a school function or work
- Drive while using any type of mobile device, including a hands-free device
If they have any trace of alcohol in their system and are under 21 years old, Texas will suspend their licenses. Texas also suspends the licenses of minors convicted of buying, possessing, or consuming tobacco.
Teens can apply for adult licenses when they turn 18 if they follow all of Texas’ teen driving laws.
Statute of Limitations for Claims
The maximum time you can wait before filing a lawsuit is two years after the event. This time frame applies to both property damage and bodily injury claims. If you wait longer than two years, your provider may not cover your claims.
Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in place for 60 days or more unless the following conditions occur:
- You don’t pay the premium.
- You have committed fraud or misrepresentation on your application.
- You have a revoked or suspended driver’s license.
Texas providers have 10 days to notify you of a midterm cancellation, regardless of whether or not it is due to nonpayment.
If a provider decides not to renew your policy, it has 30 days to inform you before the expiration date. The provider must give you notice and explain its reasoning for not continuing your policy before it drops it. Common reasons why providers drop policies are that the provider no longer offers that type of insurance, it doesn’t want to write as many policies in your area, or you have a drunk driving conviction.
Texas allows self-insurance for motor carriers. Carriers must apply and submit materials to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to prove they have an adequate net worth and have established an insurance program. The minimum collateral is $115,000.5
Car Inspection Requirements
Vehicles registered in Texas must pass an annual safety inspection. All testing takes place at the Department of Public Safety–licensed Official Vehicle Inspection Stations. Along with the safety inspection, vehicles must undergo emissions testing in 15 counties:
- El Paso
- Fort Bend
Different types of vehicles have different costs for car inspections.
- One-year safety: $7
- Two-year safety: $7
- Commercial: $40
- Trailer/motorcycle: $7
- Moped: $0.25
- Safety emissions (El Paso, Travis, and Williamson counties): $18.50
- Safety emissions (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston): $25.50
- Emissions-only vehicles (El Paso, Travis, and Williamson counties): $11.50
- Emissions-only vehicles (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston): $18.50
An SS-R2 is a certificate of financial responsibility that shows you are meeting the state’s minimum insurance requirements. An SS-R2 is required in the following situations:
- You have a suspended driver’s license due to a car crash.
- You’ve received more than one conviction for having no motor vehicle liability insurance.
- You’ve had a civil judgment filed against you two years from the date the decision was rendered.
- You’ve placed a security deposit with the Texas Department of Public Safety to comply with a crash default or crash suspension.
You must hold a valid SS-R2 for two years from your most recent conviction. If you fail to maintain an SS-R2 for two years, it can result in additional enforcement actions or reinstatement fees.
Defensive driving is driving in a manner that uses safe driving strategies to let motorists avoid hazards. According to Texas laws, you can take a defensive driving course to dismiss one traffic ticket every 12 months; classes can be taken either online or in person. Note that some violations are not dismissable:
- Driving at or over 25 miles per hour above the posted speed limit
- Not having car insurance at the time of a violation or vehicle crash
- Passing a school bus
- Leaving the scene of a collision (a hit-and-run)
- Committing a violation in a construction zone
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
In at-fault states like Texas, each party pays for damages based on their degree of fault. If you aren’t happy with the result, you can file a civil suit to compensate for economic damages such as medical expenses or lost wages. Claims can also cover noneconomic damages like pain, suffering, and anxiety. You can file a civil lawsuit in Texas only if the monetary amount of your loss is over $500.
Accident Reporting Requirements
In Texas, you are required to make a police report if injury, death, or property damage from an accident is worth over $1,000. If the accident involves at least $1,000 worth of death or injury, you must file a report immediately. If the accident involves at least $1,000 worth of property damage, the deadline to file a report is 10 days from the incident. Failure to report by the deadline can result in a suspended license.
In Texas, it is legal for insurance companies to discriminate based on your credit score when deciding your insurance premiums. It is also permitted to discriminate based on gender, so men pay more for car insurance in this state.
When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?
A total loss is when repairs for your vehicle would cost more than the vehicle’s estimated value, the car cannot be safely repaired, or the damage meets your state’s total loss guidelines. In Texas, if the repairs cost more than 100 percent of the car’s actual market value, it is declared a total loss.