My neighbor has a car horn that plays the first few bars of "Dixie". He likes to honk it a lot. I guess the first few times I heard it I was mildly amused. Then, it became somewhat annoying.

My neighbor's horn started me thinking. As complicated as state laws are on almost everything, indeed, there must be tons of rules concerning horns and their use in Texas. A quick check certainly proved me right.

stressed man covering ears, looking up, stop making noise
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First of all, regarding horns, Texas Transportation Code - TRANSP § 547.501. has a lot to say concerning "audible warning devices".

(a) A motor vehicle shall be equipped with a horn in good working condition that emits a sound audible under normal conditions at a distance of at least 200 feet.

(b) A vehicle may not be equipped with and a person may not use on a vehicle a siren, whistle, or bell unless the vehicle is:

(1) a commercial vehicle that is equipped with a theft alarm signal device arranged so that the device cannot be used as an ordinary warning signal;  or

(2) an authorized emergency vehicle that is equipped with a siren, whistle, or bell that complies with Section 547.702

(c) A motor vehicle operator shall use a horn to provide audible warning only when necessary to insure safe operation.

(d) A warning device, including a horn, may not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle.

Part "d" above addresses my neighbor's horn. It may not emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or a whistle. I guess a judge would have to determine exactly what constitutes "unreasonably" when it comes to loudness or harshness.

Part "c" answers the question about whether it is legal to randomly sound your horn in Texas.

(c) A motor vehicle operator shall use a horn to provide audible warning only when necessary to insure safe operation.

There is another code that pertains to this § 22-10 Sounding horn; Unnecessary Noise. This code makes it even clearer.

   It shall be unlawful for the driver or operator of any motor-driven vehicle to sound the horn, gong or other device for giving warning upon same, in a loud, unusual or unnecessary manner or to use same at any time or place except as a warning of danger.
(1964 Code, § 26-19)
Does using your horn to express displeasure at someone's driving, whether they cut you off, or are too slow to go when the light turns green constitute illegal usage in Texas? The answer is "yes" and you risk getting a ticket.
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In addition, in San Angelo, honking a car horn might violate Section 8.01.005 of the City Code which states:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to make, create, continue or cause to be made, created, or continued any unnecessary, loud, unusual, or prolonged noise which disturbs, or is calculated to disturb, the persons in the immediate vicinity thereof.

Reading all this leads me to a couple of inescapable conclusions. 1) Horns should only be used in well-defined situations in Texas and 2) Law School must be difficult.
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