June 27, 2005
There is no cushion

Other states may have an unofficial speed limit that's 5-10 MPH above what's posted, but not Texas. Well, sort of.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Harris County Sheriff's Department and the Houston Police Department said they will write a ticket even if the driver is barely over the speed limit.


The DPS, HPD and the Sheriff's Department say they have no policy that give drivers a speeding cushion.

"Our officers write tickets for just about anything," HPD Capt. Dwayne Ready said.

Lt. John Martin, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, acknowledged that writing a citation for driving just barely over the speed limit is unreasonable.

As a matter of practice, individual officers don't pull people over for going 2 or 3 miles over the speed limit, Martin said.

It's that matter of practice that's key. As I said before, traffic cops pretty much have to pick their spots, and we the public like it that way. Being just a little too fast isn't a defense, nor is it a guarantee, but the odds are in your favor.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 27, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

I don't think it's so much that they don't want to bother unless you're close to 10 MPH over the limit, but that it's much harder to get a ticket for 3 MPH over the limit to stick in court.

It doesn't take much error or miscalibration in radar devices or a squad car's speedometer to explain "speeding" by 3-5 MPH to a judge; there's enough doubt about the absolute accuracy that such a defendant would likely get a case dismissed.

When you get to 10 MPH and up, though, that's a much harder point for the defendant to argue.

It's not unlike the way a fair number of DWI suspects who measure a .08 to .10 in their BAC tests wind up copping a plea for something less serious than DWI. There's enough reasonable doubt in measurements *that* close to the threshold that the DA would risk getting nothing at all, if the defense can convince the jury there's a reasonable chance that not everything about the measurement -- the method used, the time elapsed since the stop, the calibration of the equipment -- wasn't spot-on accurate.

Posted by: Tim on June 27, 2005 5:17 PM

Look. Everyone knows there's a cushion in Texas just like every other state. Yesterday I was doing 75 on a farm road and a cop passed me.

Just don't expect any police agency to actually admit to it. Because to do so would simply raise the speed limit up to the cushion and everone would then expect a new cushion on top of that. They're just not that stupid.

Posted by: Kent on June 27, 2005 6:12 PM


I drive I-35 quite a bit between Fort Worth and Austin. Well, actually as I live outside Waco I'm usually driving to either Fort Worth or Austin but not all the way between them at the same time.

Anyway, the two places where I almost always see speed traps from the local cops are just south of Waco in Lorena, especially at night, and just south of Fort Worth in Alvarado where I always see them. You can probably go 90 all the way between Austin and Fort Worth as long as you slow down in Lorena nad Alvarado. Those two cities must depend on I-35 speeders to fund their city budgets.

Posted by: Kent on June 27, 2005 11:47 PM