Driving is a great responsibility, and with that responsibility comes harsh consequences. Sometimes even a simple traffic stop can turn into something much more serious. Many traffic violations can result in fines, suspension of your driver’s license, or other penalties. In those situations, it’s important to have an experienced attorney fighting on your side.
Attorney Matt Horak is experienced with representing those who have been charged with a serious traffic offense and is familiar with all aspects of defending these cases, including:
- Drunk Driving / DWI
- Juvenile / Underage DWI
- Administrative License Suspensions
- Intoxication Assault
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Reckless Driving
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer
- Evading Arrest or Detention
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Hit and Run
If you’ve been charged with any of these serious traffic offenses, it’s important to seek the assistance of an experienced traffic crimes defense lawyer in Texas. Having an attorney familiar with Houston area courts and defending traffic offenses will help you avoid a conviction and minimize the impact on your driving privileges.
Houston Traffic Crime Defense Attorney
Matt Horak has helped many Texans fight their traffic offense charges. Whether it’s a simple traffic ticket or a serious moving violation, Horak Law can help you minimize the effect that your mistakes today have on your future. If you are located anywhere in the greater Houston area, and you have been arrested or cited for a traffic-related crime, call us today at (713) 225-8000.
Traffic Violations Information Center
- What should I do if I’m pulled over?
- What is the license point system in Texas?
- What are surchargeable offenses?
- Why might my license be suspended?
- What are some other resources I can use to learn more about traffic violations in Texas?
If You Are Pulled Over
There are certain things you should and shouldn’t do when you see the blue lights of a police cruiser in your rear-view window. Following these steps might result in a lesser penalty, or no penalty at all. In any case, following these steps will help protect your legal rights and physical safety:
- Slow down immediately and put your blinker on. Pull over into the right-hand shoulder, or if there is no shoulder, pull into a nearby parking lot or another safe area. Do not make the officer follow you for longer than necessary or do anything to make it appear you might be fleeing.
- Turn the vehicle off. Turn the radio off, if it’s on, as well as the windshield wipers. Leave your lights on, if they are on already.
- Do not exit the vehicle until/unless you are told to do so. Follow any instructions you are given immediately and precisely.
- Move slowly and keep your hands visible. Do not reach into your pockets or open your glove compartment without being told to do so.
- If you are ticketed, sign the ticket. This is not an admission of guilt, simply an acknowledgment that you received the ticket. Once you are ticketed, you have 10 days to pay the fine or appear in court. If you do not sign, you may be arrested.
- If you are arrested, do not resist arrest. Remain silent, because everything you say will be used against you. Do not speak with anyone who attempts to question you. Tell the police you want an attorney present for questioning.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your obligations, options and rights.
The License Point System
Texas has a point system for driver’s licenses. “Points” are added to your license every time you commit a moving violation. When a certain number of points have attached to your license, you may be subject to fees or other penalties. For example:
- 2 points will be added to your license for every moving violation you commit.
- 3 points will be added to your license for every moving violation resulting in an accident.
- After you accumulate six points, you will have to pay a surcharge (explained in detail below). This is in addition to any fees or fines you may have to pay for the traffic tickets themselves.
“Moving violations” are defined by Title 37 of the Texas Administrative Code § 15.89. These offenses include any “act committed in connection with the operation of a motor vehicle on a public street or highway, which constitutes a hazard to traffic and is prohibited by state law or city ordinance.” Common traffic violations include speeding, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, or failure to stay in your lane.
While some people choose to contact an attorney when charged with any violation, you should always contact an attorney when charged with a violation which will push you over the 6 point limit and result in a surcharge.
In 2003, Texas established a “Driver’s Responsibility Program” to assess uniform surcharges against driver’s who commit certain traffic violations. Surchargeable offenses are governed by the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 708.
Conviction of a surchargeable violation results in a fine (surcharge). These surcharges are automatic and in addition to the cost of the original ticket and/or any other penalties that the court may impose against you.
Surchargeable offenses include more serious moving violations. When you are convicted of one of these crimes, you will pay a surcharge every year for three years. Typical surcharges include:
- DWI/DUI (first offense): $1000/yr
- DWI/DUI (subsequent offenses): $1500/yr
- DWI with Blood Alcohol Content of 0.16 or more: $2000/yr
- Driving without Insurance: $250/yr
- Driving with an Invalid License: $250/yr
- Driving Without a License: $250/yr
You will also be charged a surcharge for going over the 6 point limit described above. If you have 6 or more points accumulated against your license, you will be fined $100 for the first six points, plus $25 for every additional point, on a yearly basis.
If you have been charged with a surchargeable violation, or if you have accumulated 6 or more points against your Texas driver’s license, you should contact a lawyer immediately for an assessment of your case and the possible surcharges you may be facing.
There are a variety of reasons why your Texas driver’s license may be suspended. You may not operate a motor vehicle with a suspended license. If you are found driving with a suspended license, then the length of the suspension will be increased.
Some common reasons why a license may be suspended include:
- Driving under the Influence: in addition to the above surcharge, your license can be suspended for up to 2 years, depending on the circumstances of your case.
- Drug Offenses: being convicted of a drug offense may result in a license suspension, even if you were not driving when you committed the offense.
- Habitual Offender/Moving Violations: Your license may be suspended if you commit 4 or more violations in 12 months, or 7 or more in 24 months. This is in addition to the surcharges listed above.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Driving without insurance (second violation).
If your license is suspended, you may be able to appeal the suspension. You may also be eligible for a restricted license, which will allow you to continue to drive to work or to other locations during the suspension period. If you have received notice that your license is being suspended, or you believe that you might be in danger of having your license suspended, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Traffic Information and Resources
Texas Dept. of Public Safety Surcharges – A helpful guide to surcharges and information about where and how to make your payment.s
Unofficial DMV Guide – Texas – An unofficial guide to Texas traffic laws and policies.
Guide to Texas Department of Public Safety – An unofficial online guide to what DPS is, what they do, and where offices are located.
Texas Dept. of Public Safety Office #2 – The office you must visit to restore your license at the end of a suspension period. No other DPS office can process these requests.122220 S. Gessner Dr.
Houston, TX 77071
Matt Horak | Texas Traffic Crimes Defense Attorney
Most of us never pause to think about the stiff penalties we might be facing every time we get behind the wheel. We understand how the legal system works and can help to assure that a traffic violation does not result in the loss of your license or other negative consequences.
Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak represents clients in Harris and Montgomery Counties, including Houston and surrounding areas. If you have been pulled over or arrested for traffic offenses, contact Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000.