So you've received a ticket for a traffic violation in Texas. It's okay, it happens. But what you do next is extremely important. You're about to meet the justice system and hear a lot of confusing legalese. Deferred disposition, deferred adjudication, driver improvement programs — what does it all mean, and which one should you choose?
Deferred Adjudication vs Deferred Disposition
A lot of people use deferred adjudication and deferred disposition interchangeably. But these are two completely different legal processes.
What Is Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is a suspended sentence. Instead of finding you guilty, a judge gives you a chance to redeem yourself. You're put on probation and given a list of conditions to follow. If you follow all the rules, your case is dismissed.
Deferred adjudication mandates formal probation. That means you meet with a probation officer, do community service, take alcohol and drug urine tests, and pay fines, court costs, and probation fees.
It's a lot. Deferred adjudication is for Class A and B misdemeanors, which are pretty serious. But the upside is that once you're through, you can seal the records from the public.
What Is Deferred Disposition?
Deferred disposition is also a suspended sentence. It's applied to class C misdemeanors (which encompasses most traffic violations, including speeding). The big difference here is that deferred disposition probation isn't formal. In other words, you don't have to meet with a probation officer, take drug tests, and so on. If you meet all the goals set by the judge, your record is expunged.
Do keep in mind you'll still have to follow an official process for requesting deferred disposition. You'll also have to pay bond and court fees, which can cost anywhere from $240 to $310 or more.
Is Defensive Driving an Alternative?
Defensive driving is the other alternative you have. You enroll in a course (usually lasting six hours) from a state-approved driver improvement program (DIP) school.
You can enroll in defensive driving if:
You hold a valid non-commercial license.
You were not speeding more than 25 mph over the limit.
You have not completed a defensive driving course in the past 12 months.
You did not commit a violation within a construction zone.
You did not pass a school bus.
How to Request Defensive Driving
Check your eligibility.
Contact the court and request permission to take defensive driving.
Mail or hand in all the paperwork necessary.
Enroll in a state-approved defensive driving course.
After completion, mail or hand in the certificate of completion and Texas driving record.
3 Reasons Why Defensive Driving Is Your Best Option
Between deferred disposition and defensive driving, the second is clearly the best option. Let's break down why.
1. It's More Affordable
With deferred disposition, you have to pay a bond and court fees. Those costs can add up to more than $240 in most cases.
When you take defensive driving, you pay for lower court fees (usually $144) and for the course (which costs $39.95 or less). All in all, that adds up to $183.95 (or less).
2. You May Have to Take It Anyway
If you're under 25 and request deferred disposition, one of the conditions of your probation will be to take defensive driving classes. For young drivers, choosing defense driving from the get-go is the better option.
3. It Makes You a Better Driver
Defensive driving classes teach you how to react to unpredictable road conditions. Be it sharing the road with an aggressive driver or knowing what to do in an extreme weather event, you get to learn a lot during the course. While you could learn all those things from experience (the hard way), why not do it in a safe environment?
Don't Be Defined by Your Slip-Ups
Everyone slips up sometimes, but one mistake shouldn't define you. With the help of defensive driving classes online, you can leave your mistakes in the past and move on. Not only will your records be expunged, but the experience and the classes will make you a more responsible driver.