Traffic Tickets in Texas and Why You Should Not Just Pay the Fine

by John Robinson

Many people consider traffic tickets and their associated fines just part of life. Some people just pay the fine without a second thought. If a person rarely gets a ticket, this may not be that big of a problem. However, as little as two tickets in three years can become a big problem. Not only do traffic violations have an impact on a person’s automobile insurance, they can also get a driver’s license suspended before the person realizes it is going to happen.

The Texas Transportation Code provides for the “Driver Responsibility Program” in Chapter 708. This is essentially a tax and penalty system that applies to a driver upon a certain number of moving violations within a fixed time period via a “point” system. The State of Texas began keeping track of points for all traffic convictions after September 1, 2003.

Basically, the Driver Responsibility Program creates a “point” system that applies to each traffic violation conviction a person receives. Two points are recorded for a moving violation conviction in Texas or from another state. Three points are recorded if the violation involved an accident. Non-moving violations, such as driving without a seat belt, having an expired inspection, having an expired registration and equipment violations, do not accrue points. Once a driver reaches six points within a 36-month period, a surcharge (code word for penalty) is applied. This surcharge is $100 for the first six points and $25 for each additional point. This surcharge must be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety each year for three years. If you do not pay surcharge, the Department of Public Safety automatically suspends your driver’s license.

Certain offenses are treated more seriously. If you receive a single conviction of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) or No Financial Responsibility (No Insurance), the point system doesn’t apply — you owe a surcharge of $250 per year for three years. Driving with No Valid Operators License (No DL) will also result in a surcharge of $100 per year for three years.

Points only apply to convictions. This is why it is very important to try to get your ticket dismissed or get deferred adjudication. Even though a deferred sentence involves a fee paid to the city in which the violation occurred, the ticket does not result in a conviction. Only convictions are sent to the Department of Public Safety to be entered into the system for points.

At Bailey & Galyen, we strive to avoid a conviction on each traffic ticket that we represent in court. If you are charged with a traffic offense, call Bailey & Galyen to minimize the damage.