Teenager Speeding Tickets in Texas
For a teenage driver (under the age of 18), getting pulled over can be a scary experience. Authority figures, especially police officers, can be incredibly intimidating. But don’t worry, a minor traffic violation isn’t the end of the world – at least according to Texas traffic court. Your parents might be a different story.
Talk to Your Parents
Honestly, this can be the most frightening part of a traffic stop. Ideally, you and your parents should have a Parent-Teen Driving Contract in place so you are well-aware of the consequences of a traffic citation in your household. Most parents appreciate and value honesty, so telling them the truth and owning up to your responsibilities can go a long way. We’re not guaranteeing you won’t be grounded or have extra chores for a while, but at least they’ll know you take driving seriously.
Submit Your Plea
Whether you’re an adult or a minor, drivers who have been cited for a traffic offense are expected to submit a plea with their local Texas traffic court. You’ll find vital information on your ticket including your court date, location, and phone number. It’s important to pay attention to these details and to submit your plea and/or pay your fine before your due date.
In Texas, you can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you decide to plead not guilty, you and your parents will need to go to court and argue your case. Keep in mind that pleading not guilty could mean potential points on your license if the judge doesn’t rule in your favor. While this sounds like the best option for removing a violation from your record, you should know that you can still have your ticket dismissed even if you submit a guilty plea. As long as you were convicted of a minor offense (speeding under 25 MPH over the limit, running a stop sign, improper lane change, etc .) the court should allow you to take a defensive driving course to forgive your violation. And for teens, taking a defensive driving course may be required by the court.
Pay Your Fine
If you decide to plead guilty or no contest, you can pay your ticket fee online, in person, or by mailing it in. Just be sure to pay your fine before your scheduled court date. And keep in mind that traffic ticket fines are not consistent throughout the state of Texas. You will see your fine amount listed on your traffic citation. If you’re unsure or have any questions about paying your fine, contact the court immediately so you can meet your deadline without any issues. Failure to pay your fine on time could result in a suspended drivers license and even higher fees, including a license reinstatement fine.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Teen drivers under the age of 18 who are convicted of a traffic offense may be required by their court to take a defensive driving course. The good news is by taking a course, you will dismiss the ticket and the points, preventing a costly insurance rate hike. A driving safety course is extremely helpful for new drivers, as it will reinforce some of the safe-driving tactics you learned in drivers education, plus you will brush up on valuable driving rules and regulations. Teens are allowed to enroll in a TEA/TDLR-approved online course to meet this requirement. You will need to appear in court prior to your ticket due date in order to submit your request to take a driving safety course.
Obtain a Copy of Your Driving Record
Some courts in Texas require you to submit a copy of your driving record along with your defensive driving course proof of completion. You can order a copy of your Texas driving record online, and must submit it to the court by your course completion due date. And, just to be safe, it’s a good idea to take another look after a few weeks to ensure you received credit for your defensive driving course, and the ticket and points have been removed.
The rest is up to you. Everyone makes mistakes (even your parents!) so it’s understandable that a teen driver might slip up in the early years of their driving experience. Just remember, if you get another violation within 12 months of your first conviction, you could risk losing your driving privileges. So use those skills you learned in your defensive driving course and stay safe on the road!