Getting a Traffic Ticket In Texas
Convictions for Traffic Citations, also referred to as Traffic Tickets, in Texas can have a very serious impact on your driving record, your Liability Automobile Insurance Rates and can even affect your ability to obtain or keep a Texas Driver’s License under the Texas Points System. Immediately upon receiving a Traffic Ticket you should contact our Office as you usually have only 10 to 14 days before you must appear before the Judge listed on the citation. If you fail to appear in person, or through an Attorney, by the date listed on the ticket, you can be issued a new ticket and, most likely, a warrant for your immediate arrest will likely be issued!
You can plead guilty by simply mailing in the ticket along with the required fees and Court Costs, but I never recommend anyone ever plead guilty to a traffic ticket until they understand what it will mean for their driving record and their ability to keep their driver’ s license.
Remember the ticket you receive is only an accusation that you violated a traffic law and is a formal summons for you to appear in Court to address the accusation. The traffic ticket is NOT a finding of guilt by itself. The State of Texas must prove you were guilty before there is a conviction. Like any other accusation of guilt, you have the constitutional right to be represented by an Attorney.
If you plead guilty or you are convicted of a moving violation in the state of Texas, it’s important to understand the specifics of Texas traffic ticket fines and penalties. From points to surcharges, you should know what you’re paying and what you risk if you don’t take appropriate action.
Fines and penalties for traffic ticket violations are determined on a county-by-county basis in Texas. What you’ll pay for a speeding ticket in Austin might be different from what it will cost you in El Paso. The one constant for all counties is the Texas point system. Every traffic ticket is assessed a point value and when you’re convicted of that violation, the points are added to your driving record. A speeding ticket, for example, will put 2 points on your record, and a moving violation that results in an accident will equal 3 points.
The accumulation of points can result in higher Texas auto insurance rates. Furthermore, if you have 6 or more points on your record, you’ll be assessed an additional fine called a surcharge. More points will result in even more fines, and could ultimately lead to a suspended license.
What are Surcharges?
The Driver Responsibility Program allows the state of Texas to charge additional fees to drivers who accumulate a large number of traffic tickets, or to drivers convicted of serious violations. These penalties are on top of to the traffic ticket fines.
If you have more than 6 points on your driving record, you’ll face an automatic surcharge of $100. You’ll be responsible for paying that fine as long as the ticket remains on your record, which is typically 3 years. Every additional point above 6 will incur an extra $25 surcharge.
Conviction-based surcharges are much more severe. Here is a quick breakdown of the large fines you’ll face for certain crimes:
- $100: Driving without a license
- $250: Driving without insurance
- $1,000: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- $1,500: 2 or more DWI offenses
- $2,000: DWI conviction with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .16 or more
If you think the long arm of the law can’t reach across state lines, think again. All drivers convicted of a Texas traffic offense will face a surcharge, even if you’re from another state. If you don’t pay your surcharge, your Texas driving privileges will be suspended, you’ll be prevented from getting a driver’s license in Texas, and the information will be passed along to your home state, ultimately affecting your ability to renew your driver’s license.
Tickets and Auto Insurance Rates
Surcharges and fines aren’t the only consequences you’ll suffer from a traffic offense. Auto insurance companies base their rates on your driving behavior, so more points on your record could result in higher premiums. If you receive a traffic ticket and are approved to take a Texas defensive driving course to remove the violation from your record, it’s a good idea to take advantage of that opportunity. Removing a ticket and reducing the number of points on your record could prevent fines and surcharges, and will also keep you in good standing with your insurance company.
Driver’s License Suspension, Revocation, and Cancellation
Losing your driving privileges in Texas is serious business. If you are convicted of 4 or more traffic tickets in a 12-month period, or 7 or more in a 24-month period, you could find yourself with a suspended license. In addition, severe violations such driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) could result in a suspended license. Furthermore, your license could be revoked or cancelled if you are convicted of multiple DWI or DUI offenses.
Before your license is reinstated, you’ll be required to pay a reinstatement fee and submit a compliance document proving to the court that you have taken the appropriate defensive driving course or fulfilled other court-ordered obligations.
If you receive a Traffic ticket you should contact our office immediately. I can explain all of your options for a disposition or trial and then you decide how you want to proceed. Call my office today for more information as to how we can help you with your ticket.