Do I Need a Traffic Lawyer to Fight a Ticket in Texas?

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If you are a licensed driver, chances are you might get a traffic ticket at some point during your life. Maybe you’re driving down the road and you see the familiar lights of the police car behind you, but this time it’s you they’re after, instead of that other guy that sped ahead of you a few miles back. You pull over, have a nerve-wracking interaction with the officer, then go on your merry way, ticket in hand. Here’s the problem though—you don’t believe you were in the wrong. In fact, you decide to fight the ticket. Stress and anxiety wrack your body as you ponder potential strategy, then it hits you: Can you do this on your own or do you need a traffic lawyer to fight your ticket?

General Options When Receiving a Ticket

If you receive a traffic ticket in Texas, you have three basic choices: Plead guilty, plead not guilty, or plead no contest.

Pleading Guilty: If you plead guilty, you will be expected to pay your ticket and court costs. There may be a possibility of negotiating lower fees by attending a driving school. (More on that in a bit.)

Pleading Not Guilty or No Contest: This option will require an appearance in court in front of a judge. If you win your case, there is a strong probability of walking away without owing a thing, but the burden of proof will be on you. Navigating the system on your own can be a frightening experience with possible negative consequences, so if you are going this route you may want to seriously consider hiring a traffic lawyer to represent you.

Fines and Penalties that Might be Imposed

In Texas, the court is allowed to add surcharges on top of the normal fees for your ticket, if you are convicted. These surcharges, dictated by the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, are based on points on your license and convictions. And it’s important to keep in mind that you can be charged separate fines for both.

  1. Points—The points system is pretty straight forward. Each conviction is awarded either two or three points which are added on to your driver’s record. A traffic conviction either out of state or in Texas will result in two points and a conviction involving a crash will result in three points. These points will remain on your record for three years from the date of conviction. Once you accumulate six points or more, you will be charged a surcharge each year until the points decrease. This amounts to $100 for the first six points and $25 extra for every point above six. Of course, your insurance rates may go up with just a couple of points on your record.
  2. Convictions—Convictions can sometimes have a much higher surcharge than points. If assessed a conviction surcharge, you most likely will be required to pay that charge every year for three years from the date of conviction. Here are some charges in effect at the time of this writing.
  • $100 for driving without a license
  • $250 for driving with an invalid license
  • $250 for not having insurance
  • $1,000 for driving while intoxicated, first offense
  • $1,500 for driving while intoxicated, two or more offenses
  • $2,000 for driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .16 or more

Ticket Dismissal is Possible

It is sometimes possible to get your ticket dismissed even if you are found guilty of the offense. This will involve petitioning the court for permission to take an approved defensive driving course. Once you receive a conviction you can ask the court for permission to take a course. It must be six hours long and can be taken online. Once approved, you will have ninety days to complete the course and deliver a certificate of completion along with a copy of your driving record to the court.  The process can be complex, and you may want to consider consulting a traffic attorney if interested in pursuing this process.

The following will prevent you from taking the defensive driving course to dismiss your ticket:

  • Driving twenty-five or more miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Your conviction involves an infraction in a construction zone
  • You’ve already completed a defensive driving course within the previous twelve months

A Traffic Lawyer May be the Key to a Successful Outcome

Even though you can go to court and attempt to fight a traffic ticket without a lawyer, it’s probably not the best idea. At the very least, it’s a good idea to consult a traffic lawyer to see what the possible consequences of your ticket may be (based on points, prior convictions, fines, etc.). This might guide your decision of whether to fight your ticket in court.

In addition, a traffic lawyer will know the ins and outs of the system, and can check the ticket and notes as well as any video that might exist, for inconsistencies and any other information that might help to get your ticket overturned. Finally, a lawyer can help determine if you might qualify for ticket dismissal through the defensive driving program and can work with you to make sure you’re completing all of the steps correctly.

Getting a traffic ticket, especially if you have prior points and convictions, can be scary. There’s no need to face the experience alone. Hire a traffic lawyer who is familiar with the process and can work with you to achieve the best outcome for your situation.

If you are interested in learning more about hiring a traffic lawyer in Texas to fight your traffic ticket, please contact the Law Office of Bell & White today. In or around San Antonio, call 210-374-6292 or 210-584-8538. In or around Del Rio, call 830-212-7382.

Call the Law Office of Bell & White at 210-374-6292 or 210-584-8538 in the San Antonio area or 830-212-7382 in the Del Rio area to learn more about hiring a Texas traffic lawyer today!

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