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Traffic Violations

Receiving a traffic ticket can be scary, especially if it is the first time.  There are several steps that you will need to take in order to resolve the ticket properly.  The good news is that most traffic tickets can be dismissed if you are willing to take a course and pay a fine. Please contact the Attorney for Students to help you through this process.

All traffic tickets are Class C misdemeanors punishable by up to a $500 fine and possible suspension of driving privileges. Some tickets are automatically eligible for a dismissal with a Driver Safety Course (aka Defensive Driving).

Note: Some speeding violations can result in an arrest. For example, if you are driving over a 100 miles per hour an officer can use their discretion to charge you with reckless driving and take you to jail.

 

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  • FAQs

      1. Be calm with the officer when receiving the ticket.  Being argumentative may only result in a worse ticket or additional charges.  Ex: The officer stopped you for speeding and you failed to use your blinker when pulling over.  If you are calm and cool, the ticket may only be for speeding and you are warned about using your blinker. If you are argumentative, you may get a speeding ticket AND a ticket for Failing to Signal Intent When Changing Lanes.
      2. Sign the ticket.  The officer will ask you to sign the ticket when it is given to you.  Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt or an acknowledgement/agreement that the officer was correct about stopping you or ticketing you.  Signing the ticket only means that you understand you have been given a ticket and must contact the Court in the future. You can protest the ticket and demonstrate innocence in Court. If you refuse to sign the ticket, the officer MUST arrest you and this will create a permanent blemish on your criminal record. 
      3. Check the date.  Somewhere on the ticket (usually at the bottom) will be a court date.  This is not an actual date in which you are expected to show up in court and speak with a judge. Instead, it is a date by which you must "appear" either by phone or mail to the Court and state how you wish to proceed on the ticket. You have 3 choices: Plead by Mail, Speak with a Prosecutor, or Request a Trial. 
      4. Contact the Court.  Let the Court know which of the three choices you are selecting.  In almost every situation, the best choice is to "Speak with a Prosecutor."  Only rare cases should be set for trial.  It is a myth that you can set a speeding ticket for trial and it will be dismissed if the officer doesn't show up.  Police officers today are compensated with overtime pay for attending traffic tickets hearings; this means that the cop has a financial incentive to come to the hearing.  Speaking with a prosecutor is usually the best choice because it gives you an opportunity to explain what happened and perhaps work out a plea agreement that results in all tickets being dismissed. 
      5. Plea Options.  Regardless of the type of ticket you received, there is a possibility that the ticket can be dismissed with either a Driver Safety Course (DSC) or a Deferred Disposition. Texas law allows for every driver to dismiss one eligible ticket each year by taking a Driver Safety Course and paying a fine. Tickets which are not eligible include speeding more than 25mph over the posted speed limit and tickets in construction or school zones.  This automatic DSC option means that even drivers who are guilty can have the charge dismissed by paying a fine and completing an eight (8) hour education class about driving laws.  Drivers who are not eligible for DSC may still be able to have their tickets dismissed if the prosecutor agrees to give them a Deferred Disposition.  A Deferred Disposition is very similar to DSC because it also requires the driver to pay a fine and take an eight (8) hour education class.  However, it also requires the driver to not get any new tickets for the next six (6) months.  If the driver is successful, the ticket will be dismissed.
    • Being convicted of a traffic ticket often seems harmless because there is no jail time and it won't affect your criminal history.  Unfortunately, traffic ticket convictions could lead to a license suspension or may raise your car insurance rates.  Tickets for not having insurance, speeding, and driving without a license carry additional fines of up to $750 that must be paid or your license will be suspended. 

    • Drivers who are not eligible for defensive driving (DSC) may still be able to have their tickets dismissed if the prosecutor agrees to give them a Deferred Disposition.  Deferred Disposition is very similar to DSC because it requires the driver to pay a fine and take an 8 hour education class.  However, it also requires the driver to not get any new tickets for the next 6 months.  If the driver is successful, the ticket will be dismissed.

      Deferred disposition can be used to dismiss just about any Class C ticket but it requires the Court's approval.  Each Court has its own rules about when it will grant a deferral.

    • One of the most important privileges given to students in Texas is a driver's license.  There is no constitutional right to drive in America.  Rather, driving on the highway is a privilege to you by the state where you live.  Because driving is a privilege, your state can put any restrictions and requirements on that privilege that it deems necessary.

      Among other things, Texas requires a driver to renew this privilege every few years, to carry a license with them anytime they operate a vehicle, to maintain liability insurance, and to have their vehicle inspected regularly.  Students who disobey these requirements may lose their driving privileges.

    • Yes. As long as you haven not taken the course in the past year you are eligible.  If you are not eligible then you can also request a deferred disposition to keep it off your record.

    • You can request a driving safety course (under Art. 45.0511 of the TX Code of Criminal Procedure) if your speed was under 95 miles per hour (mph) or no more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit. The court typically gives you 90 days to complete the course.