(NEXSTAR) — If you’ve been driving long enough in Texas, chances are you have seen this happen.
Someone is tailgating (driving too close to the rear end of) another driver, and the person in front performs a brake check (abruptly stomping on their vehicle’s brakes while another vehicle is following close behind). What typically happens next is everyone behind the brake checker hits their brakes as soon as they can, and in some cases, a crash is the end result.
But can a driver brake-check a tailgater legally in Texas? What does the law say regarding this action?
It is true that Texas does not have any law in place specifically prohibiting brake-checking. However, drivers wanting to brake check others are not off the hook.
According to Texas’ transportation code, cars following one another must maintain a safe stopping distance. It also prohibits reckless driving, which is defined as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property.”
Generally, brake-checking falls under the Texas definition of reckless driving. By deliberately hitting the brakes in retaliation, the driver displays a wanton disregard for the safety of the other driver, since there’s a risk the person following closely behind them will crash into the back of their car.
In Texas, drivers who are caught brake-checking another driver risk a state fine of up to $200, confinement in a county jail for up to 30 days, or both.