Driving down the highway, listening to the radio, concentrated on getting where you need to be, when all of the sudden, a cop car appears on your rear view mirror and its siren lights are on.
You pull over to the shoulder of the road and the cop walks over to the side of your car and signals you to roll down the window. He tells you that you were going “a little bit fast.” Your first thought? “I didn’t even notice.” This is one of the most common traffic violations: a speeding ticket. But in reality traffic violations come in many forms: driving on the left lane, driving wrong way on one-way street, following too closely, improper passing, such as passing on the right or passing in a no-passing zone, crossing the yellow line, driving left of center, the list goes on and on.
Most of us have been in this situation at least once in our lifetime. The easiest thing to do after getting a ticket is to pay it and get it out of the way, or worse, ignore it hoping that it will somehow just disappear. However, if a ticket is simply paid off it will become a conviction, if it becomes a conviction, points will be added to your driving record. In Texas, this point system is called the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP). Points are applied for moving traffic violation convictions and remain on the driver record for three years. Two points are given for any moving violation and three points are given for violations resulting in a collision. If enough points are accumulated, it will result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, depending on the type of conviction, you may also be required to pay surcharges every year for three years. Useful information regarding the DRP and surcharges can be found at http://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/Forms/DL-103.pdf.
After getting a ticket there are several ways to prevent these points from accumulating in your driving record. Most of us know about the safety driving course. A defensive driving class that can either be taken online or on site and that, after completing it, the court agrees to dismiss the violation. However, defensive driving is NOT available for those who:
1. have taken the course to dismiss a traffic ticket within the past 12 months;
2. have a violation in excess of 25 MPH or more over the speed limit; or
3. have a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Even if defensive driving is an option, many do not want to or simply do not have the time to complete this course by attending a 6 hour class or by setting aside time to complete the course online. So what can be done if you do not qualify for defensive driving or if you do not have the time to complete the course? You hire an attorney to handle your citation for you. An attorney will know how to get your ticket dismissed without you having to deal with the defensive driving course, plus you will not have to take a day off work to attend court yourself since the attorney will appear on your behalf.
Now, if a ticket is simply ignored, it will not magically disappear, in the contrary it will become an even bigger problem for you. In addition to having to take care of the original ticket, you will now also have to deal with a Failure to Appear (FTA) and a warrant. An FTA carries new fines that you will have to pay to the court in addition to the fines associated with the original violation, and a warrant, well a warrant, as we all know, has the power to get you arrested. Moreover, ignoring tickets will also place a hold on your driver’s license not allowing you to get it renewed. So, please, do not disregard traffic tickets, if anything, at least reach out to the court before the appearance date located at the bottom of the ticket and ask what your options are to take care of the infraction.
If you recently received a traffic citation or you are just trying to take care of old tickets that you have pending in Texas, please reach out to the Dorothy Butler Law Firm at 512-699-5632 or [email protected].