Texas Traffic Violations Attorney
Houston Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyer
– Harris County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County
If you receive a traffic ticket, you need an experienced attorney who thoroughly knows the court procedures for handling traffic violations. The legal team at Tad Nelson & Associates has defended thousands of individuals cited for traffic violations. They know what to do. If you have received a traffic ticket for offenses such as speeding or reckless driving, contact an experienced Texas traffic violations defense attorney. Call (281) 280-0100.
Defending a Traffic Violation Charge
Tad Nelson works with the prosecuting authority to get you deferred adjudication or a dismissal. If this is not possible, they file an appeal bond with the JP or Municipal Court that will automatically move your case up to a County Court. Upon filing the appeal bond, it may take up to two weeks to process, and then it may take up to six months for the county court to schedule a court date for your case. Mr. Nelson and his legal team will then appear on your behalf to represent your interests. The goal is to receive either Deferred Adjudication or have your case dismissed. With either dismissal or a deferred sentence, you will not have the ticket reflected on your driving record.
Harsh Implications for Texas Traffic Violations
If you are like many Texas motorists, you might assume that a driver’s license suspension is the punishment you receive for violating state laws on DUI or reckless driving. Considering the severity of these offenses, a harsh penalty like suspending your driving privileges seems appropriate. However, what you may not know is that there are many other ways to lose your license. Any time you are ticketed for a traffic violation defined in the Texas Driver’s Manual, you will receive points in addition to a fine. By accumulating a designated number of points in a certain time period, you put your driving privileges at risk.
When you rely on driving for personal and work reasons, a suspension has extreme ramifications. For this reason, it is critical to trust a Houston traffic violations defense attorney who can tackle the specifics. You can also review some basics on how Texas traffic tickets can lead to a driver’s license suspension.
Traffic Tickets Under the Texas Points System
Fines are certainly a deterrent to comply with traffic laws, but the state points system goes even further to discourage repeat violations and protect the public. Therefore, two points are added for any Texas moving violation and three points apply if you cause an accident by breaking the law. Common violations include speeding, red-light running, failing to yield, and making an illegal turn.
You should note two important factors related to the points system for Texas traffic violations:
- Being a nonmoving violation, you will not receive points for a parking ticket.
- Some traffic violations are criminal in nature, including drunk driving, operating without a license, and not having insurance. Instead of points, you will receive a conviction-based surcharge of $250 to $1,500.
How Points Add Up to a Driver’s License Suspension
The threshold for officials taking action regarding your driving privileges is six points accumulated in three years. At this point, you will have to pay a $100 surcharge annually; another $25 surcharge applies to every point in excess of six. For every year that you do not receive any points, one point will be deducted from the total. Still, you are responsible for paying the surcharge for every consecutive year that you are over six points.
The real impact of the points system hits hard when you have multiple moving violations in a short period of time. For instance:
- If you are cited for four or more traffic violations in 12 months, your license could be suspended.
- A longer driver’s license suspension applies when you are convicted of seven or more moving violations in a 24-month period.
- If you have an endorsement on your license, you could lose your driving privileges after just two tickets.
What Are the Penalties for Failing to Stop and Render Aid Following a Traffic Accident?
Motor vehicle accidents are often the consequence of traffic violations, such as speeding or failing to yield at an intersection. Sometimes, a driver might panic when they get into a fender bender because they fear getting a traffic ticket for causing the accident–so they just leave the scene. While such a reaction may be understandable, it can land you in much more serious legal trouble than paying a ticket or adding a few points to your driver’s license.
In Texas, there is a felony offense known as “failure to stop and render aid” (FSRA). Under Section 550.021 of the state Transportation Code, a person can be charged with FSRA if they were was operating a motor vehicle involved in an accident that “results or is likely to result in injury or death of another person” and failed to take any of the following actions:
- stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident, or as close to the scene as possible, or return to the scene of the accident if they did not previously stop;
- determine whether any other person was involved in the accident and if so determine if they require any aid;
- remain at the scene of the accident and provide basic information to the other people involved in the accident, such as a driver’s license, vehicle registration, or insurance information.
Basically, if you just leave the scene of the accident without taking any of these steps, and the police later determine that someone else was–or could have been–injured or killed, the district attorney can charge you with a felony.
What Happens If I Drive Without Insurance in Texas?
If you have ever been pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation, you know the drill. The officer will ask to see your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. But what if you do not have insurance? Maybe you forgot to send in your monthly payment and the insurer canceled your policy. Or perhaps you simply could not afford your premiums. Can you be arrested–or even go to jail–for driving without insurance?
What Car Insurance Does Texas Require?
The State of Texas requires all licensed drivers to demonstrate “financial responsibility,” which normally means carrying a minimum amount of insurance coverage. Obviously, you are free to purchase more coverage, and in many cases it makes financial sense to do so. Indeed, the mandatory minimums are unlikely to cover a serious accident: just $25,000 for personal injury (or death) to one person or $50,000 to all persons injured or killed in the same accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident.
Even without insurance, there are other means of establishing financial responsibility, including:
- Depositing $55,000 in cash or securities with the Texas State Comptroller, which can be used to pay off any judgments arising from a car accident;
- Depositing a $55,000 cashier’s check with the County Judge; and
- If a person owns more than 25 motor vehicles, by “obtaining a certificate of self-insurance.”
Potential Fines & Surcharges
Under Section 601.191 of the Texas Transportation Code, if you operate a motor vehicle without insurance–or otherwise establishing financial responsibility–a police officer can cite you for a misdemeanor. You will not face jail time, just a fine of between $175 and $300 for a first offense. If you are cited a second time, the range of fines increases from a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $1,000.
The Texas Department of Public Safety also has the authority, under Section 708.103 of the Transportation Code, to “assess a surcharge” against your license if you are cited for driving without insurance. This surcharge is $250 per year, unless you “establish financial responsibility” within 60 days of the offense. If you do not have insurance, this means purchasing and prepaying for a policy for a term of at least six months.
Texas Court Imposes 75-Year Sentence for Enhanced FSRA Conviction
The base punishment for FSRA is five years in state prison or one year in county jail and/or a $5,000 fine. This assumes that nobody was seriously hurt or killed in the accident. If there was such a victim, FSRA is treated as a second-degree felony (in the case of death) or a third-degree felony (in the case of serious bodily injury), which carries substantially higher maximum prison terms.
In addition, if you have a prior criminal record, a subsequent FSRA conviction could be used to label you as a “habitual felony offender” and send you to prison for life. This actually happened in a recent case from the Texas 11th District Court of Appeals, McCoy v. State. The defendant here was convicted of FSRA. He also had at least three prior felony convictions in Oklahoma. Consequently, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a habitual felon offender to 75 years in person.
On appeal, the defendant argued it was improper to enhance an FSRA conviction in this manner. But as the 11th District explained, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has expressly stated that “the offense of failure to render aid is susceptible to the enhancing provisions” of the habitual felony offender statute. This was true even though the defendant’s case did not involve an accident where anyone was seriously injured or killed.
Call Now to Speak a Houston Traffic Violations Defense Lawyer
While waiting for a court date is time-consuming, it is important to fight traffic tickets charges to the fullest extent possible. Having a record of traffic violations can affect your insurance rates, result in a license suspension, or ALR (Administration License Removal) for up to two years if you receive subsequent tickets.
This overview is useful in explaining the basics of Texas’ points system, but it should also convince you of the need to retain experienced legal representation to fight traffic violations. Contact the Texas traffic ticket lawyer at Tad Nelson & Associates if you have received a traffic ticket for speeding or other moving violations. Trust your ability to drive to an experienced Texas traffic violations lawyer. Call (281) 280-0100.