When it comes to traffic violations, it is fairly common in the United States for a state to have a point system to track the number and type of violations accrued by each licensed driver. Some states even have a fine system to penalize a driver who accrues too many points. In 2003, however, Texas legislators decided to turn the simple point system into a cash cow through HB3588 of the 78th Legislative Session, which later became TRC § 708—the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.
This program assigns a yearly surcharge based on factors defined by the point system and convictions for certain traffic offenses such as DWI. It also enacts driver’s license suspensions or revocations for those who don’t pay the surcharges. The purpose of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program is to dissuade would-be traffic violators while providing a flow of revenue for the Texas Legislature to use. However, in a decade of existence the program has caused 60% of drivers to owe on the surcharges—leading to 1.3 million unlicensed Texans and $1.7 billion in dollars that never made it to the budget.
The best defense to this ineffective, unfair points program is to fight every traffic violation and/or traffic crime that you are charged with. An experienced DFW criminal defense attorney can fight against traffic convictions and point assessments, as well as any other defense related to the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.
Texas Driver Responsibility Program Attorney in Dallas County
Whether or not the Texas Driver Responsibility Program will stay in place will depend on the outcome of HB104 before the 83rd Legislative Session. If you are concerned about potentially facing surcharges from the program due to points accumulation or a criminal traffic offense such as DWI in Dallas-Fort Worth, including Garland, Irving, Addison, Richardson, Mesquite,Decatur, Terrell, Weatherford, Sherman, Rockwall, Burleson, Waxahachie, Denton, and Arlington, contact the experienced criminal traffic defense lawyers of Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Dallas.
Your first consultation on how the Texas Driver Responsibility Program applies to your Dallas County traffic case is free, so call (972) 233-5700 today to schedule yours.
Texas Driver Responsibility Program Information Center
- Point System and Related Penalties for the Texas Driver Responsibility Program
- Texas Driver Responsibility Program Surcharges for DWI and Other Traffic Offenses
How many points are assessed for what violation is defined in Tex. Transp. Code § 708.052. Accrued points assessed after September 1, 2003 remain on your driving record for three years from the date of conviction. Your driving record is reviewed by Texas DPS every year to check for potential points-based surcharges. Points are assessed by the following scale:
- 2 points for each moving violation in Texas or another state
- A moving violation in Texas is one of those defined in 37 Tex. Admin. Code § 15.89
- This includes speeding, though points for speeding will not be assessed if the violator did not exceed the speed limit by more than 10%
- 2 points for a child safety seat violation
- 3 points for any moving violation resulting in an accident
An accrual of six points within any consecutive three-year period will result in a $100 annual surcharge, with each additional point in that period increasing the charge by $25. There is no maximum surcharge limit for the amount you can pay for point accrual.
A driver’s license suspension will occur for four or more moving violations in a year, seven or more violations in two years, or if the driver fails to pay or make arrangements to pay the surcharges within 30 days. Failure to pay will also result in additional fees.
An experienced DFW criminal defense attorney can help you examine your driving record and determine how the Texas Driver Responsibility Program affects your case, as well as if there are any defenses available.
Separate surcharges are also immediately applied upon convictions of specific traffic offenses, including DWI. This surcharge occurs annually for three years from the date of the conviction, and any surcharges from subsequent convictions in the same three-year period are cumulative. For DWI convictions, the surcharges are as follows:
- DWI First Offense – $1,000 annual surcharge
- DWI Second Offense – $1,500 annual surcharge
- DWI with BAC .15 or Higher – $2,000 annual surcharge
Other annual conviction-based surcharges are driving without a license at $100, driving while license is invalid at $250, and failure to maintain insurance (known as financial responsibility) at $250. If you provide proof of insurance for the time of the arrest, the suspension will be waived but the surcharge will remain.
These surcharges add extra expense to already expensive criminal convictions like DWI. Contacting an experienced criminal traffic offense lawyer as soon as possible after your ticket or arrest is critical to increasing your chances of avoiding a surcharge.
Texas Driver Responsibility Program Lawyer in DFW
While the Texas Driver Responsibility Program is in effect, you will be obligated to pay these surcharges for convictions plus any fees assessed by the Texas DPS’ contract vendor, the Municipal Services Bureau (MSB). An attorney can help you fight the charges as well as explore options like the indigency program for reduced surcharges and an occupational license during TDRP suspension.
Whether these surcharges stick around is still to be decided as of the 83rd Texas Legislative Session. However, one thing is for sure. If you have been charged with a traffic violation or a criminal traffic offense like DWI in Dallas County, Denton County, Collin County, Tarrant County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Ellis County,Wise County, Kaufman County, Parker County, Grayson County or the surrounding areas, the experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys of Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will help you fight for a reduction or dismissal of your charges.