Texas traffic tickets can be a huge a hassle, and an inconvenience to say the least. Nobody likes paying fines and, if you get enough citations, you could face much worse penalties than simply a lighter wallet. Citations are handed out by police and other enforcement agencies for violations of both state and municipal Texas traffic laws. While some tickets, such as for parking violations, may be relatively minor, others can be quite severe, such as for DUI and reckless driving.
Many people who receive a ticket in Texas look at it as little more than an inconvenience and often choose to simply pay the fine. But, as the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas points out, simply paying the fine means that you are pleading guilty to the offense. In some cases, especially for repeat violations, pleading guilty can result in having to pay an additional surcharge to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Remember that you have a right to plead not guilty and to request a court date. However, if you do request a court date then you must show up for it. Failing to appear could lead to further fines and even arrest.
Most traffic violations in Texas are classified as Class C Misdemeanors and those are only punishable by a fine not exceeding $500. However, keep in mind that the fine is only one piece of the financial penalty that you could face when you receive a traffic ticket in the Lone Star State. Texas uses a points system, called the Driver Responsibility Program, which means that for certain traffic violations you will be assessed a number of points (two for a conviction, three if the conviction also resulted in an accident) that will go on your driving record. If you receive six points then you will have to pay a $100 annual surcharge to the DPS. Every point after six will result in an additional $25 to be paid each year. Also, multiple convictions could result in you losing your license.
Furthermore, convictions, including for traffic fines, will go on your driving record, which insurance companies will use to calculate your premiums. The more points you have associated with your license, the more you will have to pay for insurance.
One way to reduce the bite a traffic citation may cause is by taking an approved course at a Texas driving school. Completing a driver safety course can help get some points removed from your license. Additionally, showing your insurance company that you have completed a course could reduce your premiums. Remember, however, that a driver safety course will not remove points associated with more serious offenses, such as for driving 25 mph over the speed limit.
If you want to fight your traffic ticket then you should look up your driving record and conduct a license plate search on your vehicle. Knowing what your record is like may help you decide whether fighting a ticket is worth the effort. For example, if another conviction will place you over the six-point threshold that would result in a $100 annual surcharge then fighting that ticket may be worthwhile. On the other hand, if the ticket is for a minor parking violation then you may want to simply pay the ticket rather than deal with the cost and hassle of going to court. You can find your driving record either by contacting your DMV or using a third-party database, such as SearchQuarry.com.