Austin Traffic Citation Questions
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How is a traffic misdemeanor enforced?
Most traffic violations and summary offenses are enforced by a citation written by a police officer charging the person with the offense. Typically, the citation is issued to the person charged with the offense at the scene of a traffic accident by a police officer on the scene. If a police officer is not present, or if a police officer has not completed an investigation, a citation or summons may be sent by mail. In some situations, a police officer may arrest someone and have them appear before a district judge. A hearing may be requested.
What is a citation?
A citation, such as a speeding ticket or moving violation, is a document that contains a brief listing of the facts of the incident being cited. In this document, it will state the specific law that has allegedly been violated, as well as how to respond. For someone who has received a citation, there are two courses of action that can be taken; they can either plead guilty and pay the citation or they can plead not guilty and request a hearing. If they do neither and failed to respond to the citation, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Once this occurs, they may be arrested and brought to court and, in cases that involve traffic citations (a class C misdemeanor per Texas law), a monetary fine and driver's license suspension may be imposed. Unfortunately, some Texan motorists have had their license suspended merely because they failed to appear in court or didn't hire a lawyer to help protect their rights.
Where will my traffic citation be heard?
Texas has two different types of courts that handle traffic citations. The court which will handle your case is determined by which police agency issued you the citation. All Texas counties have Justice of the Peace courts. If a state trooper or deputy sheriff issued the citation, it will likely be heard in a Justice of the Peace, or JP, court. On the other hand, if you received a ticket from a municipal police officer, the ticket may be heard by a municipal traffic court. Many cities in Texas have their own traffic courts in addition to the Justice of the Peace courts.
What if some facts on the citation are wrong?
If the incorrect information is minor, such as an incorrect color or model year of a Texas automobile or Texas truck, the errors will probably not invalidate the citation. If the errors are major, such as citing the wrong section of the law allegedly violated, then the citation may be invalid.
What if I decide to ignore the citation?
If you do not answer a citation within a certain period of time, it can have serious consequences. If the citation is for a moving violation, not responding to the ticket can result in the suspension of your driver’s license and a warrant being issued for your arrest. A person who operates a motor vehicle while their driver’s license is suspended is subject to an additional suspension that could double the amount of time the license is lost. If an arrest warrant is issued, you could be put in jail if you get pulled over again.
Where do I get an accident report?
You may obtain an accident report from the police agency that responded to your accident. Typically, the report is at the local police department, sheriff’s office or the local Texas Department of Public Safety office. A clerk in the court where your citation was filed will be able to tell you where to obtain a copy of the accident report.
What if I miss court?
A warrant may be issued for your arrest. In addition, your name and license number may be entered into the Texas Department of Public Safety’s failure-to-appear database, which will prevent you from renewing your driver’s license. The database is often referred to as the OMNI System. In order to renew your license, you will have to pay DPS fees or OMNI fees for failure to appear.