Lane-Splitting: Navigating Motorcycle Laws

Lane-Splitting: Navigating Motorcycle Laws

The State of Texas places utmost importance on the safety and well-being of citizens that use its roads. As such, there are robust laws on the proper conduct of motorists while driving. However, Texas traffic laws do not define some of these conducts. Lane-splitting, a technique commonly used by motorcycle riders, is one of those undefined conducts.

Swerving between lanes or lane-splitting is dangerous. Serious accidents have happened due to a vehicle suddenly changing lanes while a motorcyclist is lane-splitting.

There are numerous states in the United States where lane-splitting is legal. However, in Texas, it is considered illegal even during slow-moving traffic. As a motorcycle rider, it is crucial to prioritize safety on the road and avoid reckless behaviors that could potentially earn you criminal charges.

Why Is Lane-Splitting Illegal In Texas?

Lane-splitting is considered an illegal driving practice in Texas because there are no specific laws that permit or authorize motorcycles to move between cars occupying different lanes. Texas Transportation Code § 545.060 clearly outlines the requirement for all road users to stay within a single lane while driving. This means that motorcycles, like all other vehicles, must adhere to this rule and are prohibited from maneuvering between lanes of traffic.

The language in Texas Transportation Code § 545.060 serves as the foundation for deeming lane-splitting unlawful on Texas roads. It sets the standard for lane usage and emphasizes the importance of staying within designated lanes to maintain an orderly and safe traffic flow. By forbidding lane-splitting, the law aims to reduce the potential risks and hazards associated with this maneuver, promoting the safety of all road users.

Penalties for Lane-Splitting

Engaging in lane-splitting in Texas, even in situations of stopped traffic, carries significant legal repercussions if caught. Violators can expect to receive a substantial $175 fine as an initial penalty. If the offense recurs, the consequences could intensify.

The severity of legal consequences also escalates exponentially if an accident occurs while lane-splitting. Causing harm to someone, resulting in a fatality, or damaging property will earn you a heavier legal penalty. As mandated by Texas Transportation Code § 550.022, causing an accident while lane-splitting can lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges. These charges are particularly serious and carry more severe penalties compared to a simple traffic violation.

If you cause an accident while lane-splitting, these are the possible legal consequences you will face:

Accidents Resulting to Injury:

  • Failure to Control Vehicle: Class C misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $500.
  • Reckless Driving: Class B misdemeanor, carrying a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.
  • Aggravated Assault with a Vehicle: Second-degree felony, with a potential prison sentence of 2 to 20 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Accidents Resulting to Death:

  • Failure to Stop and Render Aid (Hit and Run): third-degree felony, leading to a prison term of 2 to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide: State jail felony, with a possible sentence of 180 days to 2 years in a state jail facility and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Accidents Resulting in Damage to Property:

  • Failure to Control Vehicle: Class C misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $500.
  • Reckless Driving: Class B misdemeanor, carrying a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.
  • Criminal Mischief: The severity of the charge and penalties depend on the value of the property damage caused, ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony offense with significant fines and possible imprisonment.

Penalties for Lane-Splitting (Continued)

Moreover, if a driver is found to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) during an accident, the penalties can be increased in the State of Texas. Driving under the influence greatly raises the chances of accidents and puts everyone’s lives at risk.

Furthermore, motorcyclists in Texas are required to wear a helmet that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218. Failing to wear an appropriate helmet can lead to additional penalties, depending on the specific circumstances and the authorities’ discretion. Ensuring that motorcyclists follow motorcycling safety standards is a must. Helmets also significantly reduce the risk of severe head injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you are facing criminal charges for causing an accident while lane-splitting in Texas, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can provide vital legal advice, representation, and guidance throughout the legal process. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can also communicate with the prosecution on your behalf. They can also advocate for your rights during court proceedings.

Navigating the criminal justice system can be scary and confusing. Having a skilled defense lawyer makes all the difference in improving your case’s outcome. They will help you understand the legal process, outline your options, and provide support every step of the way. Additionally, they will review evidence, prepare witness statements, and investigate any mitigating circumstances on your behalf.