Residents of Weatherford, Aledo, Azle, Hudson Oaks, Millsap, Brock, Willow Park, Mineral Wells, Springtown, Cool, Peaster, Poolville, and other places in Parker County would be surprised by the fact that driving without a drivers license and being involved in a wreck does not mean the unlicensed driver is at fault.
The Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in a case in 1959, that is still good law today and is interesting reading. The style of the case is, James Eugene Flanigan et al v. Jack Carswell et al. The issues and the facts in the case are kinda complicated and confusing but we will focus on the part dealing with a drivers license.
Carswell was the owner and operator of an ambulance which had been issued a permit as an emergency ambulance by the Texas State Board of Health. At trial, a jury found that at the time of the collision Carswell was on an authorized run, and that the ambulance was traveling at a rate of speed in excess of 30 MPH, but less than 40MPH. It was undisputed that Carswell had only an ordinary Texas operator’s license while driving the ambulance. Flanagan and the other plaintiffs argued that because Carswell was operating the vehicle with only an ordinary license rather than a chauffeur’s license when he was exceeding the 30 MPH speed limit, that his actions were negligence per se. So the jury had no choice but to find as a matter of law that Carswell’s action in exceeding the 30 MPH limit was negligence. Understand the argument by Flanigan was that as an ambulance driver Carswell could have been operating legally up to 40 MPH. But because he did not have the chauffeurs license, he was breaking the law and negligent per se.