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How Your Texas Driver's License Could Be Suspended
Traffic tickets are no fun. One can be a real headache, but of you get multiple Texas traffic tickets, you could find yourself facing a mountain of fines and penalties, as well as a possible license suspension. Here are some of the basics you need to know to stay on the road in Texas.
The Texas point system is in place to monitor driving behavior. All Texas traffic tickets are assessed either a 2- or 3-point value. If you're convicted of a traffic offense, the ticket and the points will be added to your record. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but the more points on your record, the higher your risk becomes of additional Texas fines and penalties, as well as the possibility losing your privilege to drive.
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program requires drivers who have multiple violations on their record to pay an annual surcharge. If you have over 6 points on your record, prepare to pay $100 each year as long as those points remain on your record. Each additional point over 6 will cost you $25 more.
If you are convicted of certain serious traffic offenses, you will face even larger fines. Driving without a license, for example, will cost you $100 annually, while a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge will cost $1,000. You'll be required to pay these fines once a year as long as the conviction remains on your record.
If you're eligible, you should consider taking a Texas defensive driving course to dismiss a ticket and remove points from your record. This is the most reliable way to keep your driving record clean, and retain your driving privilege.
Surcharges aren't the only down side to multiple traffic violations. Your license could be suspended if you are convicted of 4 or more traffic tickets in a 12-month period, or 7 or more traffic tickets in a 24-month period. This is yet another good reason to keep those tickets and points off your record with a defensive driving course.
Certain serious traffic violations will result in an automatic license suspension. These include:
- Driving while under the influence (DUI)
- Driving without insurance
- Drug offenses (not limited to traffic-related offenses)
- Reckless driving
In addition, there are a few non-traffic related offenses that could lead to a Texas suspended driver license, including failing to pay traffic fines, child support, or surcharges.
If you drive during your license suspension period, you're further jeopardizing your freedom to get back behind the wheel. Driving on a suspended license is considered a criminal misdemeanor in Texas. If you're caught, you could find yourself in jail for a minimum of 72 hours and up to a maximum of 6 months. You'll also be slapped with a fine — from $100-$500.
A Texas suspended driver license can be inconvenient, but it doesn't have to be devastating. Some drivers are granted limited driving access through an occupational license. An occupational license, sometimes called an essential need license, allows drivers to get to and from work and/or school, or to perform necessary household functions.
To apply, submit a petition for an occupational license to your Texas district or county court where your suspension was issued. If granted, you will need to supply the following to the Texas Department of Public Safety:
- Certified copies of both your petition and the order from the Texas court granting your occupational license
- Proof of valid auto insurance (an SR-22 certificate)
- Payment for your occupational license and your reinstatement fee
Before your license is reinstated, you'll need to meet any court requirements, such as fees or defensive driving courses. If your payments are up to date and you've fulfilled any additional court requirements, you can submit your compliance documents to the DPS via USPS mail or email. Be sure to include proof of payment, your defensive driving completion certificate, and your suspension notice, along with your full name, date of birth, and driver's license number. If you were convicted of DWI or driving without insurance, you'll need to include proof of insurance as well. It could take up to 14 days for your forms to be processed.