Traffic Tickets Details
Texas Point System and Surcharges are Abolished!
The nightmare of Points, huge Surcharges and the resulting driver license suspensions is over! Effective September 1, 2019, the Texas Point System is abolished, all outstanding Surcharges will be waived, and driver licenses suspended for non-payment of Surcharges will be immediately eligible for reinstatement.
The Old Texas Driver License Point and Surcharge Program
On September 1, 2003, the Texas Legislature enacted the Driver Responsibility Program, which authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety to assess Surcharges against individuals based on convictions of certain traffic offenses. Surcharges were mandated as a result of either too many points, or for convictions of certain traffic violations. First, drivers were given “points” for convictions of moving violations. When the points reached 6, a $100 Surcharge was assessed. Second, convictions for a few specific violations mandated surcharges as high as $750, including convictions for No Insurance and Driving While License Invalid.
The Texas Surcharge and Point System Nightmare
To be blunt, the Texas Driver Responsibility Program was a disaster! The typical nightmare scenario went something like this: John Citizen, a Texas driver, receives a traffic ticket for No Insurance. Thinking he’s doing his civic duty, timely pays the ticket. The problem is that, paying the ticket results in a conviction, for which the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) assesses a $750 Surcharge. Joe Citizen can either pay the $750 upfront or make monthly payments over a 3 year period. Joe Citizen chooses to make monthly payments but eventually forgets to make 1 payment. Unbeknownst to Joe, DPS suspends his driver license for non-payment of the Surcharge. Joe then gets pulled over for speeding, and not only gets a ticket for speeding, but also for Driving While License Invalid (DWLI). Once again, Joe pays the tickets, thereby receiving convictions for both. DPS assesses another $750 Surcharge against Joe for a conviction for DWLI. Joe now owes $1,500 in Surcharges. So now, Joe’s driver license is suspended, he can’t get auto insurance and can’t pay his Surcharges. But, Joe still has to drive for work and household purposes, which he does. Again, Joe eventually gets pulled over and receives tickets for DWLI and No Insurance. Payment of these tickets results in additional Surcharges of $1,500, bringing Joe’s total Surcharges to $3,000. And the nightmare continued.
Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of Texas drivers found themselves in the same scenario as Joe Citizen. Many are currently in debt to DPS for amounts exceeding $5,000. For many, this is a debt they simply cannot pay. And, as they continue to illegally drive to fulfill their life’s duties and responsibilities, they continue to incur additional Surcharges.
Governor Greg Abbott Signs House Bill 2048, Ending Points and Surcharges
In June of 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law, House Bill 2048, which ends the Texas Driver License Points and Surcharges System. The law takes effect on September 1, 2019. So, what does this mean? Beginning September 1, 2019, Texas drivers will no longer be assessed Surcharges, nor given Points, for convictions of ANY traffic violations. Most importantly, ALL outstanding Surcharges will be waived. So, for Joe Citizen referenced in the scenario above, on September 1, 2019, his $3,000 in Surcharges will be eliminated! This is great news for the roughly 1.5 million Texas drivers, who currently have suspended driver licenses for non-payment of Surcharges. For those drivers, they will be immediately eligible for reinstatement with the payment of a reinstatement fee of $125.
Other Texas Laws Regarding driver License Suspensions Remain Unchanged
House Bill 2048 only abolishes the Texas Driver Responsibility Program. Texas DPS remains authorized to suspended Texas Driver Licenses for many other reasons, including if it determines that a Texas Driver:
- has operated a motor vehicle on a highway while the person's license was suspended, canceled, disqualified, or revoked, or without a license after an application for a license was denied;
- is a habitually reckless or negligent operator of a motor vehicle;
- is a habitual violator of the traffic laws (i.e. 4 convictions within 12 months or 7 convictions within 24 months);
- has permitted the unlawful or fraudulent use of the person's license;
- has committed an offense in another state or Canadian province that, if committed in this state, would be grounds for suspension;
- has been convicted of two or more separate offenses of a violation of a restriction imposed on the use of the license;
- has been responsible as a driver for any accident resulting in serious personal injury or serious property damage;
- is under 18 years of age and has been convicted of two or more moving violations committed within a 12-month period; or
- has committed an offense under Section 545.421 (fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer).