In this article, we’ll explore some of the most frequently asked legal questions in Texas—questions that often begin with, “Is it illegal to…?” It’s natural to be curious, and perhaps even confused, about the legalities of certain activities or situations. Whether you’re a long-time Texas resident or just passing through, understanding the law can help you navigate life with confidence and ensure that you’re always on the right side of the law.
At Varghese Summersett, our vast experience spanning various practice areas has given us a unique vantage point to tackle complex legal issues. We’ve learned a lot in the thousands of cases we’ve handled and we want to share things you should know in a quick, memorable, and sharable way. So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and join us as we venture into the realm of Texas law, unearthing some surprising answers to questions you may have thought were straightforward.
From curious queries about whether it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas, to more serious questions about self-defense laws and the legality of certain substances, we’ll provide you with clear, concise, and enlightening answers. We’ll also tackle some unexpected questions that may have never crossed your mind, but are certainly worth knowing, such as the legalities around collecting rainwater or owning exotic animals. By the end of this article, you’ll have a wealth of newfound knowledge about Texas law, and perhaps even some fun facts to share.
So, let’s get started on this enlightening journey, as we explore the answers to some of Texas’s most intriguing legal questions. And who knows, you might just find yourself surprised by what you learn along the way.
Yes, it’s illegal to drive in Texas without insurance. State law requires all drivers to at least carry the minimum level of liability insurance. Liability insurance covers damages if you cause a auto accident.
Driving without insurance in Texas could result in a $350 fine for the first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses. Additionally, your license and vehicle registration could be suspended and you could be required to file an SR-22 form with Texas DPS.
In Texas, you must have at least 30/60/25 basic coverage, which includes these coverage amounts:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $60,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
No. Contrary to popular belief, picking bluebonnets is not illegal in Texas. However, it is essential to keep in mind that picking or damaging flowers on private property without the owner’s permission is considered trespassing and destruction of property, which can lead to criminal charges. Additionally, removing plants from state parks or public property is generally prohibited.
No. In fact, it’s encouraged. Both private and public Texas entities are encouraged to harvest rainwater by multple state laws, including the Texas Property Code preventing homeowners associations from prohibiting personal use rainwater harvesting systems.Collecting rainwater in Texas is even encouraged by the state government. In fact, Local Government Code Section 580.004, promotes rainwater harvesting and allows the installation of rainwater collection systems in residential and commercial properties. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulates the installation and maintenance of these systems.
Crimes of moral turpitude in Texas involve dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or deliberate violence. According to Texas law, a crime of moral turpitude includes:
- Anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals.
- An act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties that a man owes to his fellow man or to society in general.
- Something immoral in itself, regardless of whether it is punishable by law. The performance of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute, fixes the moral turpitude.
- Willful, flagrant, or shameless immoral conduct that shows an indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community.
No, there is no Texas law prohibiting wearing headphones while operating a motor vehicle. There are, however, various Texas statutes dealing with dangerous and distracted driving. If headphones or earbuds cause a driver to be distracted and cause an accident, a charge could be possible. Texas has laws prohibiting certain uses of electronics while driving, mostly aimed at preventing texting while driving, but also can be applied to headphones if they cause a distraction.
No, not if you are a party to the conversation. In Texas, it is legal to record a conversation as long as one party to the conversation consents to the recording. Texas is known as a “one-party consent” state, which means that only one person involved in the conversation needs to be aware of and agree to the recording.
This rule is outlined in the Texas Penal Code Section 16.02, which addresses wiretapping and electronic surveillance. It is illegal to intercept or record a conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.
However, it is important to note that recording a conversation to which you are not a party, and without the consent of any of the parties involved, is illegal.
Yes, it is illegal to burn money in the United States. According to Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code, it is a federal offense to mutilate, cut, deface, disfigure, or perforate, or to unite or cement together, any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued.
In simpler terms, deliberately destroying or defacing U.S. currency is illegal, and this includes burning money. This law is in place to maintain the integrity of the nation’s currency and to prevent potential financial disruptions that could result from the destruction of currency.
Yes. Driving with a broken tail light is illegal in Texas under the Texas Transportation Code §547.322. All vehicles must have functioning tail lamps to signal other drivers on the road. A broken tail light may lead to accidents or injuries, which could result in personal injury claims or liability for the driver with the non-functioning tail light.
No, there is no Texas law that prohibits driving barefoot. In fact, while its a commonly-held belief, no state outlaws driving barefoot.
However, some cities or counties in Texas might have local ordinances that address barefoot driving, it is not a violation of state law. Learn more: Is it illegal to drive barefoot in Texas?
No, generally, it’s not against the law to lie on your resume in Texas.
However, in certain circumstances providing false information on a resume such as claiming to have a specific degree or certification required for the job could bring legal consequences.
Doing so could be considered fraud, such as lying about your employment history. A person could sued for breach of contract or fraud if the lie is discovered.
Additionally, lies on a government job application could be considered an offense under the False Statements Act, which makes it illegal to knowingly make false statements or representations to a federal agency.
Texting while driving is illegal in Texas under Texas Transportation Code §545.4251. This law prohibits drivers from using a wireless communication device to read, write, or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. Violating this law can lead to personal injury cases if distracted driving results in an accident or injury.
No. There is no Texas law that specifically prohibits dumpster diving, but some cities and municipalities have ordinances have local ordinances regulating or prohibiting the practice.
In some specific circumstances, however, dumpster diving can be considered a crime. Items clearly marked as private party or located on private partty could result in theft charges. Criminal trespass charges could be made if someone enters a dumpster behind a fence or locked area.
No. It might be against your mother’s rules, but it’s not against the law in Texas. If you’re 18 or older, it’s not illegal to ride in the back of an open-bed pickup truck while it’s being driven.
Take note: But, it is illegal for anyone 17 and younger to ride in an open-bed pickup truck.
It is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine between $25 and $200.
Defenses against the charge include:
- The truck is being operated in a parade or emergency
- Using the truck to transport farmworkers from one field to another field on a farm-to-market road or other country road outside a municipality.
- Driving the truck on a beach
- The truck is the only vehicle owned or operated by the members of a household
- The truck is in a hayride permitted by the governing body of or a law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the hayride occurs.
In Texas, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle under the Texas Penal Code §22.10. The law states that a person commits an offense if they intentionally or knowingly leave a child younger than seven years of age in a motor vehicle for more than five minutes without someone 14 years of age or older present. This law aims to protect children from potential injuries, including heatstroke and other accidents.
In Texas, it is illegal to be intoxicated to the point of posing a danger to oneself or others in public, including bars. According to the Texas Penal Code §49.02, public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Yes. Failing to report an accident in Texas is illegal in some circumstances under the Texas Transportation Code §550.022 and §550.023. Drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death, or property damage exceeding $1,000, are required to report the accident to the local police department or Texas Department of Transportation within ten days. Failure to report an accident can lead to personal injury claims and potential criminal charges.
Failing to use a turn signal is illegal in Texas, as stated in the Texas Transportation Code §545.104. Drivers are required to signal their intentions to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet before making the maneuver. Not using a turn signal can lead to accidents and personal injury claims, as other drivers may be unable to anticipate sudden movements.
Transporting an unsecured load is illegal in Texas under Texas Transportation Code §725.021. Drivers are required to secure all cargo in their vehicles or trailers to prevent them from falling or spilling onto the roadway. Unsecured loads can lead to accidents, injuries, and personal injury claims if debris from the load causes harm to other drivers, pedestrians, or property.
While some states have strict laws regulating the ownership of exotic pets, Texas is more lenient. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.101-822.113, with proper permits and adherence to specific regulations, Texans can own an array of exotic animals, including lions, tigers, and bears. However, owners must register their exotic pets with their local animal control agency, ensuring that they can provide a safe environment and proper care for the animals.
Is it illegal to open carry swords and other long blades in Texas?
In the Lone Star State, it is legal to openly carry swords, machetes, and other long blades. In 2017, Texas passed House Bill 1935 (HB 1935), which removed size restrictions on knives and other bladed weapons, allowing citizens to openly carry these items. However, there are still restrictions on carrying such weapons in specific locations, such as schools, hospitals, and bars, as laid in Texas Penal Code § 46.03.
Is it illegal for children to operate lemonade stands in Texas?
In 2019, Texas passed a law protecting the entrepreneurial spirit of children by allowing them to operate lemonade stands without permits. Known as the “Lemonade Stand” law, prevents local health departments and other regulatory authorities from shutting down these small businesses operated by minors. The law aims to encourage young entrepreneurs and teach them valuable life skills.
Is it illegal to shoot wild pigs from a helicopter in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal to shoot wild pigs from a helicopter under specific circumstances. Due to the significant overpopulation of feral hogs and the damage they cause to agriculture and the environment, Texas has enacted laws to facilitate their population control. Texas Parks and Wildlife Code § 43.1075, passed in 2011, allows individuals with the proper permits and licenses to participate in aerial hunting of feral hogs and coyotes on private land. This practice, known as “helicopter hog hunting,” aims to mitigate the impact of these invasive species.
Is it illegal to buy, sell, or use fireworks in Texas?
Fireworks are legal in Texas, but their sale and use are subject to specific regulations. Under the Texas Occupations Code § 2154.202, fireworks can only be sold during designated periods around major holidays, such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Additionally, fireworks cannot be sold to minors under the age of 16, as stated in § 2154.251. When it comes to using fireworks, some cities and counties in Texas have their own restrictions, and it is essential to be aware of local ordinances and regulations.
Is it illegal to purchase alcohol on Sundays in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal to purchase alcohol on Sundays, but only after noon. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 105.01 and § 105.02, liquor stores are closed on Sundays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day., but beer and wine can be sold at grocery and convenience stores from noon until midnight. Additionally, alcoholic beverages can be served in bars and restaurants after 10 a.m. on Sundays if accompanied by food.
Is it illegal to fish without a license in a public water body in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to fish in public waters without a valid fishing license, as stated in Texas Parks and Wildlife Code § 46.001. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when fishing from a bank in a state park or during the annual Free Fishing Day. Licenses can be purchased online, in person, or by phone through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Is it illegal to smoke in public places in Texas?
There is no statewide ban on smoking in public places in Texas. However, individual cities and counties may enact their own ordinances restricting smoking in certain public areas, such as restaurants, bars, and parks. It is essential to be aware of local regulations regarding smoking in public spaces.
Is it illegal to marry your cousin in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal to marry your cousin if both parties are over the age of 18 and not closely related by blood. According to Texas Family Code § 6.201 and § 6.206, first cousins are permitted to marry in Texas, but more closely related family members, such as siblings or parents, are prohibited from marrying each other.
Is it illegal for an atheist to hold office in Texas?
Texas Constitution Article 1, Section 4 states that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office, but it also mentions that public officials should acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being. However, this requirement is not enforced.
Is it illegal to have a state income tax in Texas?
In Texas, there is no state income tax. According to the Texas Constitution Article 8, Section 24, a personal income tax can only be enacted if approved by a majority of Texas voters in a statewide referendum. Currently, Texas is one of the few states without a personal income tax, and any attempt to introduce one would face significant opposition.
Is it illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet?
In Texas, it is legal for motorcyclists over the age of 21 to ride without a helmet if they meet specific requirements. According to Texas Transportation Code § 661.003, a motorcyclist can ride without a helmet if they have completed a Motorcycle Operator Training Course or are covered by a health insurance plan providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred while operating a motorcycle.
Is it illegal to use medical marijuana for specific conditions in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal to use medical marijuana for specific conditions under the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP). As per Texas Health and Safety Code § 487.001 – 487.202, individuals with qualifying conditions, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, autism, and terminal cancer, can obtain low-THC cannabis (not exceeding 0.5% THC) with a prescription from a registered physician. However, Texas maintains strict regulations on the use of medical marijuana, and access to the program is limited compared to other states with more comprehensive medical cannabis programs.
Is it illegal to break a window to save a child or pet locked in a hot car in Texas?
Is it illegal to break a window to save a child or pet locked in a hot car?
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01 and Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 92.156, a person who uses force to enter a locked vehicle to rescue a child or domestic animal is immune from civil liability for damages if they meet certain conditions. These conditions include having a reasonable belief that entering the vehicle is necessary to prevent imminent harm, notifying law enforcement or 911 before or immediately after breaking the window, and using no more force than necessary to enter the vehicle.
Is it illegal to text while driving in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to text while driving. As per Texas Transportation Code § 545.4251, drivers are prohibited from using a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as using a device for navigation purposes, reporting illegal activity, or summoning emergency help.
Is it illegal to collect seashells from beaches in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally legal to collect seashells from public beaches for personal use. However, there are restrictions when it comes to collecting specific species or collecting shells in protected areas. For example, it is illegal to take live shells, such as those containing living organisms like hermit crabs, from the beach. Additionally, certain beaches or wildlife preserves may have specific rules or regulations regarding shell collecting, and it is essential to be aware of local guidelines.
Is it illegal to display a “no guns allowed” sign on private property in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal for private property owners to display a “no guns allowed” sign to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises. Texas Penal Code § 30.06 and § 30.07 outline the specific requirements for signs that effectively prohibit concealed carry (30.06 signs) and open carry (30.07 signs) of handguns on private property. These signs must meet specific criteria, such as being written in both English and Spanish, using contrasting colors, and featuring specific language regarding the prohibition of firearms. If the signs meet these requirements, individuals who carry a firearm onto the property can be charged with criminal trespass.
Is it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving in a school zone in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving in a school zone. According to Texas Transportation Code § 545.425, drivers are prohibited from using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone, unless the vehicle is stopped or the driver is using a hands-free device. This law aims to increase safety for pedestrians, especially children, in school zones by reducing driver distractions.
Is it illegal to park on the wrong side of the street in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally illegal to park on the wrong side of the street. According to Texas Transportation Code § 545.303, a vehicle parked on a two-way roadway must be positioned with its right-hand wheels parallel to and within 18 inches of the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Parking against the flow of traffic is considered a safety hazard, as it increases the risk of accidents when the vehicle re-enters the flow of traffic.
Is it illegal to cut down a tree on your own property in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally legal to cut down a tree on your own property. However, there are certain exceptions and restrictions that may apply. For example, some cities or counties may have specific tree ordinances that regulate the removal of trees, especially if they are of a certain size or considered protected species. Additionally, if the tree is located on a boundary line between two properties or within a public right-of-way, additional permissions or permits may be required before removing the tree. It is essential to be aware of local regulations and guidelines regarding tree removal.
Is it illegal to use a radar detector in a personal vehicle in Texas?
In Texas, it is legal to use a radar detector in a personal vehicle. There are no state laws prohibiting the use of radar detectors for non-commercial vehicles. However, using radar detectors in commercial vehicles is prohibited under federal law, specifically Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 392.71. Additionally, it is important to note that radar jammers, which actively interfere with radar signals, are illegal under both Texas and federal law.
Is it illegal to remove a boot from your car in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to remove a boot from your car without authorization. According to Texas Transportation Code § 683.082, if a vehicle has been immobilized with a boot by law enforcement or a parking enforcement agency due to unpaid parking violations, it is an offense to tamper with or remove the boot without proper authorization. Removing a boot without permission can result in additional fines or criminal charges.
Is it illegal to own a dangerous wild animal as a pet in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to own a dangerous wild animal as a pet without proper permits and compliance with regulations. According to Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.101 – 822.113, owning certain dangerous wild animals is prohibited without registering the animal with the appropriate animal registration agency in the county where the animal is kept. Dangerous wild animals include lions, tigers, ocelots, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, bobcats, lynxes, servals, caracals, hyenas, bears, coyotes, jackals, baboons, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and any hybrids of these animals.
Is it illegal to gamble in Texas?
In Texas, gambling is generally illegal, with some specific exceptions. As stated in Texas Penal Code § 47.01 – 47.10, gambling activities, such as placing bets on games of chance or operating gambling establishments, are prohibited. However, exceptions to this rule include state-sanctioned lottery games, charitable bingo, and wagering on horse or greyhound racing at licensed racetracks. Social gambling in private settings, where no person profits other than personal winnings and the risks are the same for all participants, is also allowed.
Is it illegal to have a front yard vegetable garden in Texas?
In Texas, it is not illegal to have a front yard vegetable garden. According to Texas Local Government Code § 211.014, cities and other local governments are prohibited from enacting or enforcing regulations that prevent homeowners from planting vegetable gardens in their front yards. However, local governments can still enforce reasonable regulations on the size, type, and maintenance of the garden, as long as they do not effectively prohibit front yard vegetable gardens.
Is it illegal to carry brass knuckles in Texas?
In Texas, it is no longer illegal to carry brass knuckles. As of September 1, 2019, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 446, which removed brass knuckles from the list of prohibited weapons in Texas Penal Code § 46.05. Before this change, possession of brass knuckles was considered a Class A misdemeanor. With the passage of this bill, individuals can now legally possess and carry brass knuckles in Texas.
Is it illegal to discharge fireworks within city limits in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally illegal to discharge fireworks within city limits. Most cities in Texas have ordinances prohibiting the use of fireworks within their boundaries, and violators can face fines or other penalties. However, regulations on fireworks may vary by city, so it is essential to check local ordinances before using fireworks. It is worth noting that fireworks are allowed in unincorporated areas of the county, subject to specific regulations, and it is always important to follow safety guidelines when using fireworks.
Is it illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. According to Texas Penal Code § 49.031, an open container is defined as any bottle, can, or other receptacle containing any amount of alcoholic beverage, and the seal has been broken, or the contents have been partially removed. It is an offense to knowingly possess an open container in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or parked. Violators can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face fines up to $500.
Is it illegal to drive through a red light if you’re turning right in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally legal to make a right turn on a red light, provided specific conditions are met. According to Texas Transportation Code § 544.007, a driver facing a steady red signal may make a right turn after coming to a complete stop and yielding the right-of-way to any vehicle or pedestrian within the intersection or approaching the intersection. However, this rule does not apply if a sign is posted prohibiting a right turn on a red light. Additionally, some cities in Texas may have local ordinances prohibiting right turns on red lights at specific intersections.
Is it illegal to use a fake ID in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to use a fake ID. According to Texas Penal Code § 37.10, it is an offense to knowingly possess, manufacture, or use false identification, such as a driver’s license or personal identification card, with the intent to deceive or defraud. Using a fake ID can result in various penalties, depending on the severity of the offense, ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony. Potential consequences include fines, probation, community service, or even imprisonment.
Is it illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle under certain circumstances. Texas Penal Code § 22.10 makes it an offense to leave a child younger than seven years of age unattended in a vehicle for more than five minutes if the child is not accompanied by an individual who is 14 years of age or older. Violators can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500. In cases where the child is injured or put at risk of harm, more severe charges and penalties may apply.
Is it illegal to drive with a broken taillight in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to drive with a broken taillight. According to Texas Transportation Code § 547.322, vehicles must be equipped with at least two red taillights that are visible from a distance of at least 1,000 feet behind the vehicle. If a taillight is broken or not functioning, the driver may be pulled over and issued a citation for a defective light. It is essential to maintain all vehicle lights in proper working order to ensure safety on the road.
Is it illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Texas?
In Texas, there is no statewide law prohibiting riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. However, local ordinances in some cities or towns may restrict or prohibit bicycles on sidewalks, particularly in busy commercial or pedestrian areas. For example, some cities, such as Austin and Houston, have local ordinances that prohibit riding bicycles on sidewalks in specific zones. It is essential to be aware of local regulations and guidelines regarding bicycle use on sidewalks to ensure the safety of both cyclists and pedestrians.
Is it illegal to hunt on your own property without a license in Texas?
In Texas, it is generally illegal to hunt on your own property without a license. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Code § 42.002, all residents and non-residents are required to obtain a hunting license to hunt any wild animal or bird in the state, including on their own property. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Landowners or their immediate family members may hunt certain nuisance animals, such as feral hogs or coyotes, on their property without a hunting license if the animals are causing property damage. Additionally, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department may issue special permits for specific hunting activities that do not require a general hunting license.