Texas Court Records
What are Texas Traffic Tickets?
In Texas, traffic tickets are legal documents issued to road users found violating the state’s road-traffic laws. State troopers issue traffic tickets to defaulting vehicle owners, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. They usually contain details of a driver’s offense as well as associated penalties. Records of tickets and citations are maintained at the state level by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The municipal courts also keep records of traffic violations generated within their city borders.
Records of traffic violations and all other public records may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?
In Texas, traffic citations are issued to road users who defy the state’s road rules. While the terms ‘traffic citation’ and ‘traffic tickets’ are used interchangeably, citations are typically issued for non-moving offenses such as illegal parking. On the other hand, persons who flout moving violations such as speeding above the limit and running red lights are issued (and made to sign) traffic tickets.
Signing a ticket or a citation is a promise to appear before the court no later than the date listed on the notice. It is important to note that putting a signature on a citation is not equivalent to a guilty plea. As such, offenders may elect to contest the charges, or pay stipulated fines, take a driving improvement course depending on the nature of their violation.
How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Texas?
The various City Municipal Courts serve as the traffic courts in the State of Texas. They hear traffic-related cases and collect payment for speeding tickets and parking citations. Most municipal courts provide three options for paying these fines, including:
- In-person payment
- Payment by mail
- Online payment
Some courts also allow road defaulters within their jurisdictions to pay using Western Union and credit cards. Paying by mail requires posting payment with ticket number written on check to the applicable Municipal Court’s mailing address.
Electing to pay for a ticket or citation in Texas equals admission of guilt. As such, persons who pay tickets may also face additional penalties such as demerit points on their driver’s license and suspension. Those that do not want to pay off their tickets can contest the ticket by appearing in court or hiring an attorney to appear on their behalf on the court hearing date scheduled on the ticket. Persons that cannot afford a lawyer can use the free legal resources available on Texas Courts’ website to decide how to handle the case.
Can You Pay Texas Traffic Tickets Online?
Yes, defendants that do not wish to contest their speeding tickets or parking citations can pay their fines online using credit and debit cards. The various municipal courts use different online portals available on their respective websites. Usually, a minimum convenience fee between $3 and $5 will apply for each payment. Also, those with approved payment plans can make partial payments online. Alternatively, offenders can make payments via independent or third-party services.
How Do I Pay a Ticket Online in Texas
The steps and requirements to pay tickets online depend on the municipal court overseeing the city where the offense occurred. For instance, in the City of Dallas, parking tickets are resolved using the city’s official web page’s online payment system. On the other hand, traffic or speeding tickets in the city are paid via the Dallas Municipal Online Payment portal.
Some other city online payment portals for tickets and citations include:
City of Houston - Ticket Payment System
City of Austin - Municipal Court Public Inquiry System
City of San Antonio - Municipal Court Online Payment
The city of Fort Worth- Traffic Violations and Parking Violations
Typically, the information needed to search and pay for traffic tickets includes ticket number or license plate number. Acceptable methods of payment include credit/debit cards and other electronic funds transfer methods.
What is the Texas Traffic Ticketing System?
Under the Texas Transportation Code, the Texas Department of Public Safety runs the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) for traffic offenders. This program helps to motivate safe driving habits in citizens. It requires the DPS to impose surcharges on violators using a point-based and a conviction-based system.
Standard moving violations are two points, while moving violations that resulted in a crash are three points. The DRP mandates drivers to start paying surcharges after accumulating six or more points within a time-span of 3 years. The amount to be paid usually increases with more accrued points. Drivers that accrue four moving violations in 12 months or seven moving violations in 24 months will have their licenses suspended.
The burden of conviction-based surcharges is placed on drivers that are guilty of serious traffic offenses. These violations do not lead to points on drivers’ records but require offending drivers to pay a surcharge annually for three years. For instance, first offenders arrested for DWI or intoxication manslaughter are charged $1,000 per year for three years. Second-time offenders are required to pay $1,500 per year for the same period. Also, persons caught with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or higher are charged $2,000 for three years.
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program was repealed in September 2019. As such, defaulting drivers in Texas are no longer required to make surcharge payments.
How Do I Know if I Have a Traffic Ticket in Texas?
It is relatively easy to find out the status of a driver’s history and license. Interested persons may visit the Ticket/Citation Search page provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) to do so. Querying parties must give their full name, date of birth, and driver license number/ID to render a search successfully. Using the details displayed, inquirers may then proceed to track and resolve their tickets.
Drivers in Texas can also submit requests for their driving history records online or by mail to the TDPS in the following steps.
Step 1: Determine the type of record of interest. There are six types of records available at the TDPS office they include:
- Type 1 records show the status of a license only. This record costs $4 to obtain
- Type 2 is the uncertified copy of a 3-year document, including the type 1 records and a list of crashes and violations. A type 2 record costs $6
- Type 2A is the certified version of Type 2 and costs $10 per copy
- In addition to the information in type 1 and 2, type 3 contains details of all moving and non-moving violations. This type is $7
- Type 3A is the certified form of Type 3. It is the only type accepted for a defensive driving course, and it costs $10 per copy
- Type AR is the certified abstract of the complete driving record. This type costs $20
Step 2: After determining the type of record of choice, gather the following information:
- Most recent Texas driver license, commercial driver license or identification card number, as well as the audit number from that card
- Date of birth
- Last four digits of the Social Security Number
- Valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express)
Step 3: Proceed to the Licensee Driver Records Page to make an online request. Also, print the test record to make sure the browser and Adobe Reader are functional. Requestors may also opt to receive these records by email.
Step 4: Complete the Application for Copy of a Driver Record and then submit it along with a check or money order payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The office’s mailing address is:
Texas Department of Public Safety
PO Box 149008
Austin, Texas 78714–9008
How Can I Find a Lost Traffic Ticket in Texas?
Tracking a lost traffic ticket in Texas depends on the ticketing agency. Tickets issued by the Texas Highway Patrol can be found online using the Ticket/Citation Search page provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If no information is found, then the ticket may not have been updated online. Wait for 1–2 days and check again. If the ticketing officer is a county sheriff or city police officer, the ticket number can be located by querying the corresponding City Municipal Court.
How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record in Texas?
In Texas, tickets may remain on a record for up to 3 years. The Texas Transportation Code allows points associated with a driver’s record to stay for three years. Insurance companies increase auto insurance rates while these points last.
Is a Summons Worse Than a Ticket in Texas?
Upon receiving a civil traffic ticket in Texas, a defendant must appear in court on the scheduled date unless they elect to resolve the ticket outside the hearing room. This can be done by paying the fines or opting to take a driving improvement course. Typically, a mandatory court appearance is required for criminal traffic misdemeanors such as fatal crashes and DUI. A summons is also issued if a violator fails to appear in court without paying the slated fine or entering a plea prior to the scheduled date.