OOIDA State Watch

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor


One new law already in effect permits people to rescue animals in hot vehicles without the possibility of their being charged with property damage. After notifying law enforcement, the person is authorized to use a reasonable amount of force to remove the animal. HB1085 also requires good Samaritans to pay up to 50 percent of the cost of the damage, unless the vehicle owner opts to waive those costs.


A new law requires commercial driver’s licensing tie-ins with efforts to combat trafficking. Previously SB40, the new law puts in place a training course on human trafficking for CDL applicants and truckers renewing their licenses. It took effect July 1.


A House bill, HB4279, would prevent insurance companies from raising vehicle insurance rates when a driver submits a claim for pothole damage.


One bill nearing passage, A4184, would establish an emergency alert system designed to help more quickly apprehend motorists who knowingly flee the scene of an incident that results in another person’s death or serious bodily injury.


One bill halfway through the statehouse would create a highway camera network to search for non-insured vehicles. License plate readers would be employed to identify registrations and insurance policies that do not match an active registration. Violators would be mailed citations up to $120.


Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law multiple bills of interest that take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. SB1524 authorizes an increase in truck weights for tractor-trailers hauling certain intermodal shipping containers. Seven-axle combinations with a gross vehicle weight of up to 100,000 pounds will be allowed. Six-axle combinations will be permitted up to 93,000 pounds. The loads will be subject to various axle configurations.

HB3254 includes a provision stating that knowingly operating, leasing, or assigning a person to drive a large truck with an unsatisfactory rating would be a state jail felony punishable up to one year behind bars if the vehicle is involved in a wreck that results in injury. Incidents that cause a death could result in a prison term of up to 20 years.

SB1383 authorizes the DMV to issue a permit authorizing the movement of fluid milk by trucks up to 90,000 pounds and within specified axle weight limitations. The new law sets annual permit fees at $1,200. Applicants for permits would be required to designate the counties they intend to operate in.

A new law already in effect requires a commercial driver’s licensing tie-in with efforts to curb trafficking. Previously SB128, the new law mandates that CDL applicants and truckers renewing their licenses receive training in identifying and reporting trafficking.


Gov. Jim Justice has signed into law a bill that covers transportation funding and the state Parkways Authority. Among the provisions in SB1003 is permission for the Parkways Authority to continue collecting tolls beyond the previous deadline of 2019; authority to issue parkway revenue bonds to fund non-parkway public highways and bridges; and allowances for tolling in other areas of the state. Existing highways could not be tolled. New roads, the widening of an existing roadway, or a new bridge could be tolled.


The Senate voted to advance a bill to increase the incentive to get truck drivers to stop idling. To encourage the use of idling-reduction equipment, state law has authorized heavy-duty trucks to exceed the 80,000-pound maximum weight limit by 400 pounds. SB198 would raise the weight exception to 550 pounds. LL