Texas is a huge state, and in some counties, you may not see a lot of highway patrol officers waiting on the side of the road to catch someone speeding. But law enforcement is out there, and if you violate the rules of the road, you will get a fine. You could even spend time in jail!
For that reason, you ought to know what the most common traffic tickets in Texas are, what the penalty system is, and whether you can remove tickets from your record.
The Most Common Traffic Tickets in Texas
1. Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Texting while driving is against the law in Texas. It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use a handheld device; no one can use a handheld device in a school zone.
Beyond these general rules, cellphone laws vary from city to city. You'll have to check your locality to see what rules apply.
You're guilty of speeding in Texas if you drive even one mile above the posted limit. In fact, there are two types of speeding laws in the Lone Star State, a “basic speeding law” and “prima facie speed limits.” The basic law means you should never exceed a speed that is safe under the existing conditions. The prima facie speed limits assert that you are, by definition, driving at an unsafe speed if you exceed the posted limit.
Texas defines reckless driving as going more than 20 mph over the posted limit.
3. Running a Red Light
Get caught running a red light, and you could face a fine set by your local jurisdiction.
Fortunately for Texans, you won't have to pay any ticket that results from camera surveillance. The governor banned red-light traffic cameras in 2019.
4. Driving Under the Influence
In Texas, you are breaking the law as soon as intoxication affects your ability to drive. In other words, you don't need to exceed the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08%.
For a first offense, you'll receive:
A fine of up to $2,000.
Up to 180 days in jail, with three mandatory days.
Loss of your license for up to a year.
Charges are worse with each subsequent conviction. A third offense, for instance, could mean 2-10 years in prison and the loss of your license for two years.
5. Aggressive Driving (Road Rage)
"Drive friendly" is the state highway motto in Texas. If you don't heed that instruction, you could be fined up to $200 for each violation.
What Happens After I Get Ticketed?
A ticket is an allegation, not a conviction. You still have a chance to appear in court, with or without legal representation, and argue your defense.
If you choose to appear in court on the scheduled date, you can plead "guilty," "not guilty," or "no contest." A plea of "no contest" cannot be used against you in any subsequent civil proceeding, while a guilty plea can.
If you don't want to appear in court, you must either pay the fine by your scheduled appearance date or request permission to take steps to have the ticket removed from your record.
Can You Get Tickets Removed from Your Record?
Yes, you can take a defensive driving course online to remove a ticket from your record. You'll have to contact the court that ticketed you and request permission, either in writing, by phone, or in person.
When you've completed the defensive driving course, you then submit the certificate to the same court to have your ticket expunged.
You can only "fix" one ticket every 12 months.