Guide to Traffic Ticket Dismissals/Defenses
This guide will provide a quick overview to traffic ticket dismissals, defenses and a quick synopsis of remedies available.
Determine the Court/JurisdictionOne common error people make is to assume that just because they received a ticket in a city, it is the CIty Municipality which is issuing the ticket. However, different agencies can operate in one County and the ticket may be a city ticket, a County ticket, or a ticket belonging to a smaller municipality located within the city limits. For instance, the city of Balcone Heights is located within the Greater San Antonio Metroplex.
Deferred Adjudication/Defensive DrivingIf you received a citation for speeding or some other moving offense, there is a good chance you were guilty of the crime. Fortunatley, these are very common and the State is not looking to throw the book at you. While you have the rigth to fight any ticket, many people find it more cost and time effective to simply plea for a deferred adjudication to defensive driving program to fight the charge. These allow normal drivers to avoid a conviction and the subsequent charges against their licenses and driving record. I would say close to 95% of all tickets end with this type of resolution. In addition, the City will often reduce the fine by a substnatial portion (usually around $100 or so on a speeding charge) in exchange for an acceptance of guilt and to help move matters along.
Commercial Drivers LicensesIn Texas, those who hold a CDL are ineligible for deferred disposition and/or defensive driving. That means if the driver wants to plead to a ticket, they will have no choice but to enter a plea of guilty and take the conviction which can be very harmful to a CDL holder's record and livelihood. To avoid this, you must either fight the ticket via a trial or appeal to a higher court. Local municipalities can only offer deferred disposition, whereas County and District Courts can offer Deferred Adjudication. Deferred Adjudication will allow you to keep a ticket off of your record entirely. This is the preferred method to defeat a CDL ticket if there is not enough evidence to defeat it in the JP/Municipal Court. To appeal a ticket, you will need to perfect an appeal and post a bond to carry the charge to County Court. Once in County Court, you will be able to make a deal which will usually involve paying a fine and performing community service hours. Once completed, the ticket is dismissed and the person's record is clean.
Demanding a TrialIf you want to fight a ticket, you are more than welcome to do so in the form of a trial by a jury or a judge. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. If the police officer shows up to testify (and most jurisdictions require them to show up) you will be facing an uphill battle as it is your word against theirs. Also, any video/dash camera footage which may exist can be used to help convict you. The prosecution will usually review this with someone prior to going to trial to allow them to assess their chances. If you do go to trial, you have a right to represent yourself, but the Rules of Law/Evidence to apply and you may want to hire an attorney to assist you.