Many drivers in Texas are unaware of their options to deal with a speeding ticket or other offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle or motorcycle. The most popular option is to take a defensive driving course to get your ticket dismissed. The information in this article deals specifically with the rules relating to Harris County in Houston.
Who is Eligible to Get a Ticket Dismissed in Texas?
In order to get your ticket dismissed you must have a valid Texas driver’s license or permit and proof of insurance. Active duty members in the military, their spouse and dependent children are also eligible. These requirements include most drivers, however there are specific exclusions that are important to understand.
You cannot request dismissal of your ticket if:
- You are currently enrolled in a defensive driving course
- Or completed the course in the 12 months prior to receiving your ticket
- You hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
In addition, there are certain offenses that are specifically excluded, presumably because they are so egregious. Harris County doesn’t allow you to have your case dismissed if:
- You were charged with passing a school bus that was stopped with lights flashing
- You were speeding 95 miles per hour or more
- You were speeding more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit
- You had an accident but left the scene, failed give information after an accident or failed to assist other parties who were involved in the accident
- You were speeding in a construction or maintenance zone where workers were present
How do I Make a Request to Take the Driver Safety Course?
Time is of the essence if you want to get your ticket dismissed. You should do your research and use this link to the Harris County Justice Courts website to find out what you need to do. The first step is to enter a plea with the Court. You need to fill out the Traffic Citation Reply Form and mail it or bring it to the court for your appearance. In filling out the form you must:
- Provide the required information (name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number, etc…)
- Include a copy of the ticket
- Select the option “I enter a plea of not guilty and waive a jury trial”
You can download a copy of the Traffic Citation Reply Form here. If you send in your form by mail, make sure you use certified mail with return receipt. You can find your appearance date on your ticket.
The second step is to submit to the court a Driver Safety Course Request Form. You can complete this form online or mail it in. It must be received by the court BEFORE your appearance date. When completing the form, you must:
- Fill in the ticket number and your date of birth
- Tick the checkbox “I request to take a Driver Safety Course”
- Tick the checkboxes indicating that you meet the eligibility requirements
- Fill in the defendant Information
If you are mailing your request you need to use certified mail with return receipt requested. This will ensure that you have proof that the request was received by the Court before the deadline. You can apply on the Harris County Justice Courts website.
Do You Need a Lawyer When You Go to Court?
You don’t need a lawyer to represent you if you’re going to court for a traffic ticket, in fact a public defender will likely be in court to assist you. You do have to show up on the date of your appearance and be in the court when your case comes up. It is a good idea show up an hour early. The court should already have your plea and your request to take a Driver Safety course. You should bring these items to court:
- Copy of your Plea that you submitted
- Copy of your Driver Safety Course Request Form
- Copy of your drivers record
- Your driver’s license
- Proof of car insurance
The court proceeding will be very straight forward. The judge will call your case, you will state your name, the judge will review the traffic ticket you received and may ask questions about the incident. They will review your plea and see that you’ve requested to take the driver safety course to get your ticket dismissed.
The judge may ask if you are currently taking or have taken a driver safety course in the last 12 months. Respond to the judge saying “No”. The judge will approve you for the course and issue an Order from the Court that states you are permitted to take the course. You have 90 days to complete the course and present the related documents to the Court. The judge will also direct you to the Court’s administration office to pay the court fees which are $144.
If you have any questions about this process contact our attorneys for free advice. Our attorneys are experienced in all matters regarding car accidents, traffic violations, fines and court proceedings in Harris county and statewide in Texas. Call Fleming Law, P.C. 713-221-6800 or contact us online.
How to Find a Driver’s Safety Course and Get Your Ticket Dismissed.
The best place to find a Driver’s Safety Course in Houston is by using the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website https://tdlr.texas.gov. Most of the courses are offered in class or online and the cost is around $45. Make sure you get a certificate of completion from the driving school or the motorcycle training provider. The certificate is required to complete the dismissal process.
In order to complete the process, you will need the following to present to the Court:
- Driver Safety Course certificate of completion
- A copy of your driver record
- An affidavit stating that you were not taking a Driver Safety Course at the time your request was granted by the Court or had taken such a course in the 12 months preceding the date your request was approved
You can get a certified copy of your Texas driver record from the Texas Department of Public Safety and many Driver Safety Course schools provide you an affidavit along with your certificate of course completion. If you need to, you can create your own affidavit and get it notarized.
The affidavit must state its purpose, identify you fully with name and address, include a sworn statement of truth, statement of the facts (that you haven’t taken a Driver Safety Course before) and be notarized. For further details on creating an affidavit go to this website.
The three documents identified above need to be presented to the Court within the 90-day time period that began on the day you received an order from the Court allowing you to take the Driver Safety Course. You don’t have to appear in Court again, you can simply mail these documents to the Court, just make sure you keep copies for yourself. In two or three weeks after mailing, it is a good idea to call the Court and make sure they received your documents.
The Court now has everything they need to dismiss your case. All you have to do is make sure you don’t get cited for any new traffic violations during the 6-month probation period. This time period began on the day the Court issued the order allowing you to take the Driver Safety Course. Once the probation period has elapsed your ticket will be dismissed. Depending on the violation you’ll be saving yourself at least $150 to $200.