Most people think traffic tickets are no big deal. You pay them and get on with your life, right?
A traffic conviction can have lasting effects on your driving record. If you pay a fine (i.e., plead guilty) to certain types of traffic violations, you get what’s called points on your driving record. Those points remain on your driving record for three years and put you on the path to paying surcharges from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). A surcharge is an administrative fee charged by DPS to a driver, based on the number of points she has on her record. Once DPS has you on their radar, you’ll have to pay those surcharges as long as you have six or more points on your driving record.
Confused? Let me break it down for you.
Let’s say that your teenage son has a valid driver’s license, as well as a lead foot (he gets it from his mother). He picks up three traffic tickets for speeding. He picks up one ticket the first year and two more the second year. Luckily, none of his infractions lead to a crash. He pays for all three citations and promises you he will slow down.
But wait . . .
In addition to the unpleasant call from your insurance agent raising the rates on your son’s insurance, you also receive a surprise letter from DPS. A bill? From DPS? What’s going on?
It’s those pesky points I mentioned earlier. Here’s the breakdown:
Speeding is considered a Texas moving violation, so by year two, your son will have six (6) points on his driving record. A surcharge is assessed when a driver has six or more points within three years. The driver must pay the surcharge every year he maintains six or more points. Points fall off the driver’s record after three (3) years.
In your son’s case, assuming he doesn’t pick up another ticket, he will pay $100 to keep his license until that first ticket falls off his record. That $100 is above and beyond any other fees he owes. If he picks up another ticket, he’ll be paying longer and possibly more surcharges since DPS charges $25 for every point after six.
So, you’ve paid hundreds of dollars in speeding tickets, hundreds of dollars in raised insurance premiums, and now surcharges! What could you have done differently?
Hire TrafficTickets915. We provide you with an experienced El Paso traffic ticket lawyer to defend your son’s case.
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You’re now saying to yourself, OK, I understand points, but I have been charged with something a little bit more serious. What’s next?
DPS surcharges apply to more than just moving violations that resulted in a traffic ticket. You may be forced to pay surcharges when you are convicted of certain types of driving offenses. Surcharges for convictions are separate from the surcharges for points. Double whammy! Conviction surcharges are hefty and unforgiving. Take a look:
Let’s continue with our example, but now assume that your son is 21 years old. He hasn’t learned his lesson and one night he gets pulled over and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). He pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, first offense. That’s another $1,000 per year for three years, on top of that $100 he’s paying on points.
The good news: no points are applied to these offenses. The bad news: he will pay the $1,000 surcharge for three years from the date of conviction. These surcharges are automatic.
That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced El Paso DWI lawyer who knows the law and the consequences of a DWI conviction.
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WHAT IF I DON’T PAY?
Texas takes this whole “driving privilege” thing seriously.
You have 105 days to pay your surcharges. If you do not pay, your license will be suspended. If you can’t make the full payment, you can pay in monthly installments. Failure to pay those monthly installments will result in license suspension.
If your license is suspended for failure to pay surcharges, it will remain suspended until you either:
- Pay your surcharges in full; or
- Establish an installment plan to pay the surcharges, plus any service and/or collection fees.
Even if you’ve taken care of your surcharges after suspension, be ready for a reinstatement fee when getting your license back.
BUT I CAN’T PAY!
Fines, fees, and surcharges can hit hard. One thing on top of the next. Fortunately, DPS created three ways to get your surcharges reduced.
Indigency Program and Incentive Program
With the Indigency Program, all surcharges are waived, and surcharge-related suspensions will be removed. To qualify, you must have an income below 125% of the poverty level.
The Incentive Program applies to a wider range of individuals with incomes between 125-300% of the poverty level. If you qualify, surcharges will be cut in half and surcharge-related suspensions will be removed for six months.
DPS requires an application process for each program. Check it out here:
No Insurance and No Driver’s License Convictions
If you had insurance at the time of the offense, but just didn’t present it to the officer, you’re in luck. You can submit proof to DPS and get those surcharges waived.
If you did not have insurance but purchase it within 60 days, as well as prepay six months, you can get your surcharges reduced to $125.
If you obtain a driver’s license within 60 days of getting a No Driver’s License traffic ticket, you can reduce your surcharges from $250 to $50 by providing a copy of your temporary permit to DPS.
All this talk about surcharges probably has you concerned. You might be thinking . . . I have no idea if I have surcharges, what do I do? Start here:
You can check out your account, make payments, and apply for the Incentive or Indigency Program. If you need to check your license eligibility after a suspension, click here:
Still confused? Give my office a call and I’m happy to answer any questions you have!
Bottom line . . .
If you want to pay a fraction of the cost of all these tickets, fees, and surcharges, hire an El Paso traffic ticket lawyer as soon as you receive your ticket.
*Please note that this post provides information about traffic ticket or conviction surcharges and points, only. Some convictions may lead to license suspension, revocation, disqualification, denial, or cancellation. Those topics will be discussed in another post.