Understanding the Points System in Texas

Texas Driver Responsibility Law

House Bill 3588 created a new system in an attempt to encourage drivers on the Texas roadways to drive more safely. This is called the Texas Driver Responsibility Law. This new law says that Texas drivers can accumulate points on their driving record for various moving violations. Why could this impact you? Well, if you have a Texas drivers license and you receive multiple moving violations in Texas or any other state in a span of three years you could receive a notice from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in the mail alerting you that you have a fine to pay or risk losing your license. How does this work?

Texas Points System

Any moving violation that is classified as a Class C misdemeanor applies to this new surcharge law. DPS assigns point to a person’s Texas drivers license for each conviction as follows:

  • 2 points are assessed if you are convicted of a moving violation (speeding, reckless driving, etc.) in Texas or any other state.
  • Speeding violations must be greater than 10% over the posted speed, and no points are assessed for safety belt convictions.
  • 3 points are given for moving violations that result in a crash in Texas or in another state.

Each conviction that is points eligible will remain on your record for a period of 3 years, and does not substitute or replace cancellation, revocation, or suspension actions that also may have resulted from these same convictions.  The limit is 5 points.  Once you reach 6 points or more in a three year period, you will be required to pay a $100 surcharge for the first 6 points and $25 for each additional point.  For example if you were to accumulate 10 points in three years, you would owe $200 to the DPS. 

Surcharge Details for Other Convictions

Some violations are not point eligible and under the law allow for an immediate annual surcharge.  For example, if you are convicted for driving while your license is invalid or failure to maintain financial responsibility, you will receive a $250 surcharge, paid annually for three years (Total $750).  Driving without a license will cost you $100 per year.  For DWI or DWI related convictions the cost is much steeper.  For a first time DWI, the cost is $1000 paid annually for 3 years.  That price increases to $1500 for second offenses, and the charges are cumulative.  This means that for a second DWI conviction in 3 years, you will be required to make three annual payments to the State of $2500.  All of these payments are separate and would be considered additional to the other reinstatement and administrative fees that apply.

Notification for Surcharge

If you are unlucky or reckless enough to accumulate a surcharge from the DPS, you will receive a letter via first class mail of your fine amount and a deadline of 30 days to submit payment.  If payment is not received within 30 days the State will revoke your drivers license, until payment has been successful.

Where does the surcharge money go?

You might be interested to know where all of this new money will go. According the Texas DPS website, roughly 50% goes to Trauma Centers and county and regional emergency medical services.  Another 49% goest to the Texas Mobility fund which is used by the Texas Department of Transportation for highway projects.  The last 1% is used toward the operation of this new Driver Responsibility program. 

Texas Defensive Driving

Taking a TEA approved Texas defensive driving course for an eligible moving violations is one way to minimize the possibility of being surcharged.  By choosing the option to take a defensive driving course rather than just paying the fine, your driving record will remain clean and you will not receive any points from this new law.  This is the best way to keep you under the 6 point threshold, and not to mention you can receive an insurance discount too!  Unfortunately, once the points are on your record, you cannot take a defensive driving course to remove the points.  The best rule of thumb is to keep your driving record clean if at all possible.  Even better, don’t get the ticket in the first place.  Be responsible.  Drive safe.

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