Here are some frequently asked questions that we receive about traffic violations for non-commercial passenger vehicles.
Why should I hire a lawyer for my ticket?
Hiring a lawyer for your traffic citation may lead to a more favorable outcome. An attorney can help you avoid unforeseen legal issues. A lawyer can, for example, reduce the likelihood that you will need to appear in court. Spending time in court can be a huge waste of time. Sometimes the attorney can spot a deficiency that may in turn lead to a dismissal. If you plan to go to trial on your own, you should be aware that the judge assigned to your case will hold you to the same standard as an attorney. The average layman does not understand the rules of evidence and procedure let alone criminal law.
Can I just take defensive driving?
If you are eligible and the alleged offense is not excluded, defensive driving is a good option and does not require an attorney. The driver safety course option is open to eligible drivers once every 12 months. You’ll need to consider the following:
- Apply in a timely manner.
- Plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest).
- Pay a fee to the court.
- Provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance).
- Provide a copy of your driver license.
- Complete a state-approved driver safety course.
- Provide proof of completion to the court.
- Do not get any more tickets during the deferral period.
- Provide the court a certified copy of your driving record (Type 3A).
If you follow the above steps carefully, then the traffic violation shouldn’t appear as a conviction. Texas Department of Public Safety driver license records will note that you elected and completed Defensive Driving. If you fail to follow all the steps required, then the violation will be recorded instead.
How much will it cost to hire an attorney for my traffic ticket?
The answer depends on several factors, including where the ticket was issued, which agency issued it, in what court it is filed, what kind of license you have, and who the lawyer is. It is usually in the hundreds of dollars in Corpus Christi. Commercial drivers pay more. In large cities, it could be much less because of extreme volume and hundreds of lawyers competing against each other. The legal fee can be money well spent because a conviction could lead to increased insurance rates, cancelled insurance policies, additional fines and court costs, and license suspensions. Some convictions can make future tickets carry harsher consequences, especially Driving While License Invalid (DWLI). Having a previous conviction for DWLI means you could go to jail when pulled over the next time. Subsequent convictions for failure to maintain financial responsibility (no insurance) could mean a fine of up to $1,000 and a driver license revocation.
I got a speeding ticket. How many points will be on my record?
“Points” for DPS were effectively eliminated in 2019. A more relevant concern would be getting a conviction for a moving violation. Even one moving violation can cost you increased insurance premiums for years. All speeding violations, not only those >10% over the limit, were reclassified as moving violations in 2019. Getting 4 or more moving violations in a 12-month period, or 7 or more in a 24-month period leads to a determination of whether you are a “habitual violator”. That could lead to a suspension of your license.
What are surcharges?
Surcharges WERE fees charged against your license over and above the fine and court costs. Legislation in 2019 ended the surcharge program for traffic tickets. This was a great step in the right direction, enabling hundreds of thousands of people to get back to driving legally.
I have many tickets pending, and I can’t get my driver license back. What can I do?
DO NOT JUST PAY THE TICKET!!! People make this mistake regularly. This one mistake costs people thousands of dollars in surcharges and license suspensions. Your situation is much more common than you probably think. Traffic ticket attorney Phillip W. Goff has handled many difficult situations like yours. When you call, his office staff will gather information about you to assess your full situation. Most of the time, people who call are unclear on what needs to be done next. Phillip W. Goff knows what to do. There is hope. It will cost some money, but Phillip W. Goff’s goal in such cases is to save the client at least as much as the client pays him. Call now.
Will I have to pay a fine?
Depending on the disposition of your case, the answer is usually yes. The answer, however, depends upon what the disposition of your case happens to be. If there is a trial, and you win, nothing is owed. If a disposition is worked out by agreement, some payment is usually necessary. The key is typically getting a favorable result for you and your circumstances.
How long will it take?
It could be days or months, depending upon the court and your situation. Some cases drag even longer. Usually, delay will not work against you, and you won’t have a mark on your driving record in the meantime. Occasionally, some courts erroneously send out letters to scare you into pleading guilty or misuse a hold on your license. Collection agencies, usually law firms, may send threatening letters. Your lawyer can combat these tactics.
Can I fight it?
“Fight” means different things to different people. If by fight, you mean to challenge your case by taking it to trial, fighting tooth and nail over every detail possible, the answer is yes. You even have a right to a jury trial for your traffic ticket in Texas. The right to a jury trial is so important, you cannot give it up unless you waive it in writing and file the waiver with the court. In most courts, if you lose at trial, you can appeal and have a second jury trial in a county court or county court at law, if you want. Of course, trials take more of your time and a lawyer’s time than other options. Time is money. “Fight” can also mean doing what it takes to prevent a conviction on your driving record. Such a description could mean many things short of trial. Most people choose not to go to trial. We are happy to review the merits of going to trial and can represent you in court.
Can you get my ticket dismissed?
Sometimes. The truth is hiring a lawyer doesn’t mean your ticket magically disappears. Dismissals are rarely the result of a traffic ticket attorney’s direct action. Filing motions and arguing them to judges could result in dismissal under some circumstances. However, most dismissals are on the motion of the prosecutor. The reasons for dismissal can vary. Many people think discrepancies in tickets mean they can be dismissed, but that is not at all true. Find an experienced, excellent traffic lawyer, and you have a much better chance to get a favorable result than without one.