If you drive, chances are you have (or will) received a speeding ticket. Most people are a bit lost upon receiving a speeding ticket. However, you don’t have to be one of them. Thousands of people receive speeding tickets in Texas each year. You have a variety of options to resolve the speeding ticket, including a jury trial. Next time you receive a speeding ticket, know your options.
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Speeding Tickets In Texas Are Criminal Offenses
A speeding ticket in Texas charges you with a criminal offense and carries penalties besides a fine. As such, it is important to know the repercussions and your options to resolve the ticket.
The offense of speeding is created by the Transportation Code, a law enacted by the Texas legislature. The fine for speeding ranges from $1-200 and is set by a judge, plus court costs (typically $101, though it will vary due to local ordinances).
Typically, the speeding ticket will include a fine schedule based on how much over the limit you were speeding. If you just want to pay for your ticket, you can usually pay this amount. Payment of a ticket, according to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, constitutes a plea of ‘no contest’ and will result in a guilty conviction. Convictions are reported to the Department of Public Safety and will go on your driving record.
According to the Texas Administrative Code, if you are convicted of speeding more than 10% above the posted limit, two points will put on your license as part of the Driver Responsibility Program. If you accumulate six points, a surcharge will be assessed and you must pay $100 for the six points plus $25 for each additional point. If you do not pay the surcharge, your license will be suspended and you may be charged with more serious offenses if you are caught driving.
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Dealing With Your Texas Speeding Ticket With Defensive Driving
You can avoid the consequences of a conviction for speeding by opting to take defensive driving. By Texas law, you are eligible to take defensive driving once every year to dismiss a ticket. The Texas Education Agency, which regulates defensive driving schools, recommends that you first contact the court in which your speeding ticket has been filed for permission to take defensive driving.
Once you receive the court’s permission, you will have 90 days to complete the defensive driving course and mail the court your certificate, along with whatever fees and other documents the court requires (such as a driver’s license or copy of your insurance). If you turn everything in by the deadline, the court will dismiss your ticket. If you fail to comply with the requirements, the court will enter a guilty conviction and you will have to pay the full fine and court costs.
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Pleading Not Guilty
You may also plead not guilty to your speeding ticket. In Texas, speeding is a criminal offense, punishable by fine only. As such, you are entitled to all the rights as a defendant in a more serious criminal case.
However, because the punishment is by fine, Texas law does not provide for a court-appointed lawyer to help you. Speeding trials in Texas are governed by the same Rules of Evidence and Code of Criminal Procedure that govern trials for offenses such as assault and theft.
If you are not well-versed in the law, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. If you elect to represent yourself, you will be held to the same standards as an attorney and you will be expected to know the trial procedure as well as the correct form for legal arguments to prove your innocence.
Under Texas law, employees of the court (including the judge) cannot provide legal advice. They can only explain your options. If you have legal questions, you will need to consult with an attorney.
As speeding is a criminal charge in Texas, you may be arrested if you fail to appear by the date listed on your speeding ticket. Typically, the court will issue an arrest warrant commanding a police officer to arrest you and bring you to jail until you can be seen by a judge. A judge might order you to post bond in order to be released. The time you serve in jail may be applied to any fine you owe.
The Code of Criminal Procedure provides that a minimum of $50 can be applied to your fines for every 24-hour period you spend in jail. However, it is at the judge’s discretion whether or not to give you jail credit. If you are found guilty and do not pay your fine, the court will issue an arrest warrant ordering you to be held in jail until the fine is satisfied by your time in jail. Depending on the ratio with which the judge and jail calculate time served, a $250 ticket may result in anywhere from a day to a week spent in jail. As such, it is important that you appear at all your court dates and pay your fine if you are found guilty.
A speeding ticket in Texas is one of the most common criminal offenses with which people are charged. Although it can carry penalties including jail time, if you appear in court and take care of your ticket, you can prevent the more disastrous consequences. The best defense against a speeding ticket, of course, is to drive safely and with consideration for other drivers on the road.