If you are found guilty of a traffic offense, you can end up obtaining points on your driving record. When you reach a certain number of points (or even just a certain number of traffic offenses), you can end up having your driver’s license suspended and can be assessed expensive surcharges. When this happens in the Houston, Texas area, it is vital that you obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable Houston criminal defense lawyer who can help you take actions to prevent these outcomes.
First, there’s the point system to consider. Anyone who accumulates six or more points on his or her driving records within a three-year period is assessed a surcharge of $100 under the Department of Public Safety’s Driver Responsibility Program. Each additional point beyond the initial six will be subject to a $25 surcharge. These charges are given for each year that six or more points are present on the person’s record. The following traffic offenses can lead to the number of points that are listed below:
- Conviction for a moving violation—2 points
- Except for when the individual drove less than 10% over the speed limit in a place that was not a school zone
- Conviction for a traffic offense involving child passenger safety seat systems—2 points
- Conviction for a moving violation that led to an accident—3 points
A moving violation is defined as a hazardous act that a person commits while driving that is specifically prohibited by city ordinance or state law, according to Texas Administrative Code §15.89. A few of moving violations include speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road (except when legally passing a vehicle), running a red light, running a stop sign and making an improper turn, though there are also many others.
In addition to surcharges given through the point system, there are also surcharges that can be given for certain types of traffic offense convictions (for which no points are applied). In these cases, the surcharges are given each year for a period of three years, starting on the conviction date. These include the following:
- $1,000—First DWI
- $1,500—Subsequent DWI
- $2,000—DWI with blood alcohol concentration of 0.16% or more
- $250—driving with no insurance; or driving while license invalid
- $100—driving without a license or with an expired license
If a driver does not pay any imposed surcharges within 30 days from when it is due, that individual can have his or her license suspended until the payment is made. In addition to the state’s rules concerning surcharges, it also has separate driver’s license suspension requirements for traffic offenses. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, four or more moving traffic violations within a one-year period or seven or more moving traffic violations within a two-year period can lead to the driver having his or her license automatically suspended. It is possible to contest such a suspension through one’s driver’s license suspension hearing. Anyone attempting to get his or her driver’s license reinstated after a suspension is required to pay a reinstatement fee.
At Jim Medley & Associates, P.C., we help Houston residents challenge various types of traffic offenses so they can potentially avoid obtaining points on their records. Steep fees and the loss of driving privileges can pose major hardships, so anyone who is at risk of receiving these negative consequences should take immediate action in retaining the appropriate legal counsel. Contact us so one of our experienced Houston criminal defense lawyers can assist you. Our legal team is ready to advocate on your behalf!