Houston Traffic Tickets: Frequently Asked Questions
What is a traffic ticket?
What is a traffic ticket really?
Why should you retain an attorney to fight your traffic ticket?
Was the Texas Driver’s License Point System Repealed?
Does a speeding motorist have the right to see a radar gun?
Is speeding always speeding?
How can an attorney help me?
What outcomes are possible if I fight my ticket?
What is the appropriate court etiquette?
What is our refund policy?
A traffic ticket is a citation or summons issued to a person by an authorized government official for breaking a motor vehicle law. The citation requires the accused person to appear before a judge or magistrate in court, but allows that person to remain free until the scheduled court date.
True, traffic laws were created as a safety measure, but over time they have become an increasingly lucrative revenue source for the government. Upon occasion it is the out-of-control motorist who is stopped, but all too often it is the housewife on the way to soccer practice taking a left on yellow, the university student returning home for a weekend visit following the flow of traffic, or the businessman fortunate enough to escape the gridlock of rush hour, only to be stopped by a police officer. In many cases, motorists are reasonably and safely driving when they become a tally in a monthly quota.
You should fight your ticket because you can. Many people think, “I was given a ticket. There is nothing I can do.” Most people do not fight their ticket and as a result police officers can continue to give tickets that may in some cases be unwarranted. Simply paying the ticket is an admission of guilt and results in the highest fine as well as a stain on your driving record. A mark on your driving record has several implications depending upon your driving history. A blemished driving record may result in auto insurance premium surcharges, or worse, in loss of coverage as your insurance company drops you. Seeking future insurance with a history of lost coverage will result in increased base premiums. One ticket is not the end of the world, but when combined with an accident or another ticket in a three-year period the consequences can truly be costly. It pays to keep your record clean.
The Texas legislature repealed the point system in September of 2021, passing Senate Bill 354. (The Texas point system assesses points to drivers for certain traffic offenses, with the accumulation of points resulting in license suspension or revocation.)
The main reason for the repeal of the point system was because it was seen as disproportionately affecting low-income and minority communities. The system also faced criticism for being too harsh on first-time offenders and not effectively addressing the root causes of dangerous driving behavior.
Under the repealed system, instead of a point-based system, the Texas Department of Public Safety will now be able to use a risk-based assessment system to identify high-risk drivers and take appropriate action to address their behavior. This means that there will be more flexibility in the enforcement process, and it will be based on a driver's overall history, rather than the accumulation of points for specific offenses.
This change is expected to help reduce the number of license suspensions and revocations and will also result in cost savings for both the state and individual drivers. It will also help to promote safer driving habits by focusing on the root causes of dangerous driving behavior.
It is important to note that other penalties for traffic violations, such as fines, surcharges, and court costs, will still apply, and the police will still issue tickets for traffic violations, with the new system focusing on rehabilitation and education rather than punishment.
A speeding motorist does not have the right to see the radar gun even though it was the reason the official stopped the motorist in the first place. A motorist can, however subpoena the calibration records. In many states there are laws regarding the frequency of the gun calibration. If the gun was not calibrated according to law, you win.
According to Texas law, it is legal to drive over the posted speed limit as long as you are driving safely. A number of factors go into determining safe driving such as time of day, weather and road condition.
First and foremost, the legal system is very complex. An attorney familiar with dealing with the ins and outs of traffic court provides you with a clear advantage.Your attorney can also guide you through the system, so you spend no more time than it takes to read this answer preparing for your day in court. An attorney can handle many of the time consuming procedures that can deter well-intentioned citizens from exercising their right to contest their ticket in court. For example, on your ticket is a date you are scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment. An attorney can allow you to avoid going to this arraignment and can actually set a court date. An attorney saves you a trip to the courthouse and time. In many courts, individuals must have an attorney to receive deferred adjudication. While you may have gone to court over a traffic ticket once or twice, your attorney probably has handled countless violations. You want experience on your side. Please check an attorney's profile to see how much experience he has.
There are several outcomes that are possible when fighting a traffic ticket. The best option is that on the date of the court appearance, the state’s witness, the police officer, does not show up. Your case is automatically dismissed. You sign some papers and are on your way out of the courthouse. If the officer is there, your attorney may speak with him or her to reduce your fine. This type of negotiation is possible and a reduced fine may result. Another option for many people is deferred adjudication. This involves completing certain stipulations by the court, in some cases passing a defensive driving course. With this option, you have a suspended sentence and upon completion of the course and keeping your record clean, you return to court on a scheduled date, and the misdemeanor is removed from your record. You may also have a trial by jury, an opportunity to explain the events to a jury of your peers. In this instance, the jury will decide if your case should be dismissed.
There are a few quick tips to make your time in court successful. When you attend traffic court, it is above all important to be on time. The recommendation is to be early. Your appearance is likewise important. Shorts and tank tops are unacceptable. When the court is in session, you must turn off all cellular phones and pagers, stop talking, and put away all reading material.
For criminal cases, because of the flat-fee nature and quick pace of the work being done, refunds will not be available after retaining our firm. For civil cases, refunds are available on a case by case basis. Please speak with your attorney directly.