All About The Texas Traffic Point System

All About The Texas Traffic Point System

It’s always a bit scary to get points on your license. Whether it’s your first offense or yet another one in a string of unfortunate incidents, if you’re not careful you could face some more serious consequences than just a ticket from a police officer. Just like California and Arizona, Texas has enacted a traffic point system to encourage safe driving habits and track drivers’ behavior. The number of points added to a license depends on the severity of each offense, and these numbers can accumulate to do further damage to your driving permissions.

It’s incredibly helpful to understand how the traffic point system works in Texas, how to deal with points on your license, and what you can do to hopefully reverse some of the damage done. Here is a useful guide to help you decide how to deal with current and future traffic violations.

The Driver Responsibility Program

Not all states have a special name for their point system, but Texas does: the Driver Responsibility Program, or DRP for short. The name itself reminds drivers that the safety of themselves and others on the road rests in their own hands. It encourages drivers to practice defensive driving to prevent accidents and to drive as safely as possible at all times.

In the DRP, points are added to your driving record for each violation you receive. It’s pretty standard practice, and you might think that’s no big deal. But if you allow these points to accumulate from consistent unsafe driving behaviors, you may experience license suspension or fines.

The Violations

As with other states, there are non-moving violations and moving violations. While you should strive to drive as safely as possible at all times, one of these is more severe than the other.

  • Non-moving violations do not involve the car’s motion—hence, the name. Luckily, these types of offenses will not go on your driving record, although they can result in fines and other inconveniences. Things like parking at an expired meter or in a no parking zone, driving with broken mirrors or lights, or having a missing license plate are non-moving violations that can warrant a ticket but will not put points on your license in Texas.
  • Moving violations involve the car in motion. These types of offenses include speeding, texting and driving, failure to use a turn signal, and driving under the influence (DUI). Moving violations can add points to your license in Texas.

If you are given a ticket for a traffic offense, you will automatically receive 2 points for any moving violation. Violations that result in a collision will dock you 3 points. Any and all convictions that are added to your driving record will stay there for 3 full years.

Some common 2-point violations in Texas include:

  • Lane changes that are deemed unsafe.
  • Failure to use turn signals when changing lanes or entering streets.
  • Passing a vehicle on the right illegally.
  • Violations involving child safety restraints.
  • Speeding more than 10% above the designated limit.
  • Driving under the designated minimum speed limit.
  • Operating a vehicle in a reckless manner.
  • Running through a red light or stop sign.
  • Having open alcoholic containers in the vehicle.
  • Following at an unsafe distance.
  • Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident.

Remember that these offenses alone will cost you 2 points on your license, but if they result in a collision they will result in 3 points added.

Why Points Matter

Many people fail to understand the severity of having points added to your license. So, once you’ve gotten them, what do they actually mean in the long run? Depending on the offense and number of points, it could result in fines or suspension of your license.

Fines or Surcharges

In addition to court fees, you may receive some kind of surcharge that you are required to pay. Every year, these surcharges are assessed to see if they apply to your driving record. You may face a fine like this if you have 6 points or more on your record, and you will also receive immediate fines for certain violations. For example, if you drive while intoxicated (DWI) or drive without car insurance or your driver’s license, you will face a surcharge, regardless of the points on your record.

Surcharge rates include:

  • First-time DWI: $1,000. This is an automatic surcharge.
  • Driving without auto insurance: $250. This is an automatic surcharge.
  • Driving without a license: $100. This is an automatic surcharge.
  • Having up to 6 points: $100. This is assessed annually.
  • Every additional point: $25. This is assessed annually.

License Suspensions

As if fines and surcharges weren’t enough, you can also risk having your license suspended if you accumulate too many points in too short of a time. For example, if you have 4 moving violations or more within 12 months or 7 moving violations or more within 24 months, your license may be suspended. More serious violations could result in automatic suspension, including:

  • Causing an accident while driving without auto insurance.
  • Violations that involve drugs or alcohol.
  • Fatal collisions that are a cause of reckless driving.
  • Drinking underage.

Removing Points From Your License

The good news is that you are able to remove some points from your license through taking a defensive driving course in Texas. While this might not be the most exciting prospect, having to pay expensive fees or risking license suspension is far, far worse.

To attend a defensive driving course in Texas or take one online, you’ll need to make sure you’re eligible and receive permission from the court first. Then, you can take any state-approved course. There are courses that you can take in person, or you can take online defensive driving to fit in lessons when it’s most convenient for you. Then, once it’s all complete, you’ll submit a copy of your driving record and the defensive driving course certificate to the court.