TRAFFIC TICKET ATTORNEY CHARLES FRENCH
Office (713) 880-3355 ▫ Fax (713) 868-9263

Austin - Brazoria - Fort Bend - Galveston - Harris - Montgomery - San Jacinto - Waller - and surrounding Counties


FAQ's

 

I missed my court date and now I have a warrant. What can I do?

Answer: Contact us about posting a bond, lifting the warrant and getting a new court date.

 

I was mailed a traffic citation. Can they do this?

Answer: Yes. This happens most often with accident cases. Most of the time the delay is the result of the officer finishing the investigation before deciding who to cite.

 

How serious is a traffic ticket?

Answer: A traffic ticket in Texas is a class “C” misdemeanor. It is the least serious criminal offense, and is punishable by fine only. Although class “C” misdemeanors are “fine only” offenses and not punishable by jail time, there are other hidden consequences for convictions of certain violations. These hidden consequences may include license suspensions, points on your driving record and surcharges. Convictions for moving violations may also affect your insurance rates. We strongly recommend that you contact us before deciding whether to pay any traffic fines.

 

What is a moving violation?

Answer: A Moving violation is defined by Texas law as an act committed in connection with the operation of a motor vehicle on a public street or highway, which constitutes a hazard to traffic and is prohibited by state law or city ordinance.

 

How do traffic tickets affect my driving privilege?

Answer: That depends on the particular violation. Some traffic violations will have no affect. A conviction for some violations however may result in one or more of the following:

  1. Higher insurance rates.
  2. Points on your driving record.
  3. A surcharge.
  4. A license suspension.

 

How does the point system work?

Answer: You are assessed points for conviction of certain violations. For example, if you are convicted for speeding, you will be assessed two points. Three points for convictions on accident violations. If you accumulate six points within a three year period, you will have to pay a surcharge of about $100.00 per year for three years to keep your license valid.

 

What is a surcharge?

Answer: A surcharge is a tax you pay as a result of either accumulating too many points on your driving record or upon conviction of certain offenses. If you accumulate six points within a three year period, the you will have to pay a $100.00 per year surcharge for three years to keep your license valid. Surcharges are in addition to fines and court costs you pay at the courthouse. For convictions on some violations, you will not receive points but an automatic surcharge instead. For example, a conviction for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (No Insurance) will result in an automatic surcharge of $260.00 per year for three years to keep your license.

 

What if I fail to pay a surcharge?

Answer: Your drivers license will become invalid. If you are driving with an invalid license then you can be charged with DWLI.

 

If I hire an attorney, do I have to appear in court?

Answer: Most of the time yes. Sometimes no. It depends upon the particular court and the violation or violations. If you ask when you contact us we will be able to tell you for sure.

 

If I hire an attorney, will my case be dismissed?

Answer: For a case to be dismissed, there have to be grounds for dismissal. The prosecutor must decide that there is some procedural, legal or factual reason that they cannot prove their case and therefore move to dismiss it. If your attorney is on the ball, he or she will pick up on potential flaws in the state's case to try and get it dismissed prior to considering either a plea bargain or going to trial.

Be aware that even if your case is dismissed, the state may re-file the case so long as it does so within the statute of limitations.

Finally, if we represent you, we cannot and do not guarantee that any case will be dismissed. In our opinion, with limited exceptions, such guarantees are misleading to you and unethical.

 

What is the advantage to hiring an attorney?

Answer: First, an attorney can identify technicalities and other weaknesses in the state’s case that may persuade the prosecutor or judge to dismiss the case. Second, if there are no grounds for dismissal, the prosecutor may be more willing to work out a reasonable agreement on your case than they otherwise would be if you were representing yourself. Finally, if you go to trial, your better off with an experienced attorney representing you. Most people not trained in the law find will find themselves at a disadvantage to defend themselves in trial with an experienced prosecutor.

 

Can you represent me on my accident case?

Answer: If you receive a citation as the result of an accident, we can represent you on the traffic violations. However, If you need representation for any civil action arising out of the accident, you would need to contact your insurance company or a personal injury attorney.

 

Where do I get an accident report?

Answer: Depending on where the accident occurred, usually accident reports are obtained at various designated locations which may include the local DPS Office, Sheriff’s Office or Police Department. Usually a clerk in the court where your citation is filed will know where you can obtain an accident report. If your case is in one of the courts we practice in, check our court directory for the court’s telephone number.

 

What happens if I miss court?

Answer: One or more of the following may happen:

 1. An additional charge of Violate Promise to Appear may be filed against you.
 2. Warrants may be issued for your arrest.
 3. You may be entered into the DPS Failure to Appear Database (otherwise known as the OMNI System) so that you will not be able to renew
      your license.  

 

Why won’t DPS renew my license?

Answer: If you have ever missed a court date, then it is possible that you owe DPS fees (otherwise known as OMNI fees). This may be the case even if you have posted bonds and all warrants have been lifted or even if the case has been disposed of entirely.

 

What is the DPS or OMNI fee?

Answer: When you miss a court date, the court may enter you into the DPS Failure to Appear database so that you cannot renew your license. Each charge that the court enters generates a fee of $30.00 that is passed on to you. This fee is in addition to any fines or court costs associated with your case. For example, if you have a speeding violation and expired inspection violation (2 charges), and you miss your court date, a third charge of Failure to Appear may be filed against you. The court may enter the speeding and expired inspection violations into the system which means you would have to pay $60.00 in DPS fees before you could renew your drivers license. Some courts, although they’re not supposed to do so, erroneously enter the Failure to Appear violation which, in this example, would amount to $90.00. The Failure to Appear violation really should not be entered because you failed to appear on the speeding and expired inspection charges, but you did not fail to appear on the Failure to Appear charge. It was filed as a result of your Failure to appear on the speeding and inspection charges.

 

Where do I pay the DPS or OMNI fee?

Answer: At the court where the cases were filed.

 

When can I pay the DPS or OMNI fee?

Answer: By law the fee may be paid upon the posting of a bond or other security to reinstate the charge or charges, a judgement or dismissal. Once the fee is paid, the court clerk notifies DPS with a clearance letter. Once DPS receives the clearance, it usually takes several days for them to clear you out of the database.

Many court personnel take the position that you cannot pay the fee until the final disposition of your case or cases. However, this position is incorrect and contrary to state law.

 

How do I know if I have been entered into the Failure to Appear Database or OMNI System?

Answer:  Call the toll free number for the Failure to Appear Database at 1-800-686-0570 or go to http://www.texasfailuretoappear.com./search.php.

 

How do I get cleared from the Failure to Appear Database (OMNI) so that I can renew my drivers license?

Answer:  Post a bond with the court and pay your $30 fees. See Texas Transportation Code Sections 706.005 and 706.006 at www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.706.htm.

 

I was pulled over for speeding. Doesn’t the officer have to show me the laser or radar?

Answer: No. There is no requirement that an officer show you the radar or laser device.

 

I was stopped in a speed trap where the speed limit dropped from 60 mph to 45 mph rather quickly. The officer was hiding there just waiting for people. Isn’t this illegal?

Answer: No.

 

Why are some tickets filed in the Justice of the Peace Courts and others filed in Municipal Courts?

Answer: If you receive a traffic ticket from a Sheriff or Constable, then it will be filed in the Justice of the Peace Court in the county and precinct where the violation is alleged to have occurred.. If you receive your traffic ticket from a DPS Officer (State Trooper), most of the time, it too will be filed in the Justice of the Peace Court. Once in a while, DPS officers file tickets in a Municipal court, but, it is rare.

If you receive a traffic ticket from a city police officer, then it will be filed in the Municipal Court of the city where the violation is alleged to have occurred.

 

What is the statute of limitations on a traffic ticket in Texas?

Answer: In Texas, like all other Class “C” violations, the statute of limitations on traffic violations is two years. This does not mean that violations over two years old are just dropped. It does mean that if the state fails to file a complaint within two years of the violation, then it is barred from prosecution by the two year statute of limitations. The complaint is not the citation issued by the officer. The complaint is the charging instrument for a Class "C" misdemeanor. It is a formal sworn document filed with the court alleging an offense. The statute of limitations starts running on the date of the violation. Only the filing of the complaint stops or tolls the statute of limitations. So, if a violation occurs and two years elapse without the complaint being filed, then it is barred from prosecution. If a complaint is filed within two years of the violation date, even if it is filed on the last day of the two year period, then it can still be prosecuted even after two years from the date of the violation.

 


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