Fight Traffic Ticket in Texas
Were you unfairly issued a traffic ticket in Texas? If so, do you have the means to prove your innocence? Then keep reading to find out how you can fight that TX traffic citation.
Plead Not Guilty to Your TX Ticket
The first step to contesting your TX traffic ticket is submitting a plea of “not guilty" with the municipal court in charge of your case.
The specific traffic court you'll need to notify AND the deadline to enter your plea to will be printed on your ticket.
The methods for pleading not guilty differ from court to court. The Texas municipal court may allow you to plead not guilty:
- By mail.
- In person.
Check your citation for specifics on how and when you need to plead not guilty. If you lost your traffic ticket, take a look at our lost tickets guide.
After you've successfully pleaded “not guilty" to the charges, the court will assign you a date to return for your pretrial hearing. DO NOT miss any your court dates! If you do, the consequences could include:
- Warrant for your arrest.
- Additional fines.
- Denial of driver's license renewal.
If you need to reschedule a court appearance OR still have questions about pleading “not guilty," contact the TX municipal court in charge of your traffic case.
What Does It Mean to Plead Not Guilty?
By pleading not guilty, you're asserting your innocence and exercising your legal right to stand before a TX judge or jury to plead your case.
You should know that by pleading not guilty you're verifying that you:
- Have the time to appear in court, possibly on more than one occasion.
- Are aware jail time could be a penalty if you're convicted of a serious charge, like DWI or DUI.
- Understand points could be added to your TX driving record.
If you're still undecided about whether or not you should plead not guilty, take a look at our When to Fight a Traffic Ticket page.
Completing a defensive driving class in Texas can help to dismiss your traffic citation and even reduce what you pay for auto insurance! To take advantage of this option, you must plead guilty or no contest.
Learn more at our guide to Texas defensive driving courses.
Fighting Your TX Citation in Court
The process for contesting your Texas traffic ticket in court will usually consist of the following:
- Pre-trial hearing.
- Trial before a judge OR jury.
- You can waive your right to have your trial before a jury, which could ultimately speed up the process of fighting your traffic ticket.
Depending on your charges, it might also be wise to hire a traffic ticket lawyer BEFORE heading to court. If you choose to represent yourself, make sure you're familiar with all rules and procedures of Texas traffic court.
The municipal court will appoint you an attorney, ONLY if you meet the following criteria:
- If found guilty, your traffic violations could result in jail or prison time.
- You cannot afford to hire a lawyer and have proof of indigence.
For more tips on when it's best to hire representation, take a look at our guide, When to Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer.
At the pre-trial hearing, you (or your lawyer) and the Texas state prosecutor will meet to discuss the possibility of a plea agreement. A plea agreement usually includes:
- Changing your plea to guilty.
- Reduced penalties for your violations.
Taking a plea agreement will prevent you from going to trial. However, if you can't come to an agreement, the TX court will schedule a date for you to return for trial before a judge or jury.
Did you know, changing your plea to guilty can significantly raise the amount you pay for car insurance?
Before accepting a plea agreement, make sure you understand how traffic violations can affect your auto insurance rates.
Regardless of whether you're going to trial before a judge OR jury, the process will typically entail the following:
- The Texas state prosecution and you (or your lawyer) give opening arguments.
- Each side can present:
- Opportunity for rebuttals and/or cross-examination of witnesses.
- Both sides make closing arguments.
- Verdict from the judge or jury.
- If you're found guilty, the judge will then decide on your sentence and penalties.
Consequences of Fighting Your Traffic Ticket
Depending on whether you win or lose your case, the consequences of fighting your Texas traffic citation can have long-lasting positive OR negative effects on your life.
If You Lose Your Case
Depending on the seriousness of your charges, the penalties you face after a guilty verdict could include any of the following:
- License suspension.
- Usually, you'll have to pay all fines on the day you're convicted, though the court may allow you to make payments in installments if you can't afford to pay the entire amount up front.
- Traffic school.
- Additional points on your Texas driving record.
- Community service.
- Jail sentence.
NOTE: If you have a valid TX commercial driver's license (CDL) you're required to notify your employer of all traffic violations within 30 days of conviction.
If you'd like to try to appeal a conviction, you (or your attorney) will need to file a notice of appeal within 10 days of receiving the guilty verdict. The Texas municipal court in charge of your case will provide the correct notice of appeal form for you to fill out and file.
If You Win Your Case
If you're found not guilty, congratulations! You can look forward to:
- The ticket and all charges being dismissed.
- No fines or penalties to deal with.
- No additional points on your record.
- Insurance rates staying the same.