Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire an attorney?
Our Attorneys see the courtroom. We spend the majority of our time before Judges, Prosecutors, and Other Adversaries. We know what the law is and where to find it, and we know what questions to ask. We are fighters. You are our most important asset.
Cases can be difficult, even a simple traffic ticket. Most people are not used to the confusion that the system presents, from the court’s own administration to the criminal/civil procedures involved in every case. As well, every case carries with it a variety of ancillary issues that you may not be ready for and may not know about.
What are the differences between pleas of “Guilty”,“No Contest”, and “Not Guilty”?
We must advise you that municipal courts and justices of the peace typically have court administration that is overburdened and under-paid. Because of this, these courts typically do not spend the time to explain and distinguish each type of plea. This is a problem we see growing in our defense of the citizens of our State. You are not lawyers and should not be expected to know what the difference between each archaic term or what penalties are attached to each.
We will discuss each in layman’s terms:
“I plead Guilty/No Contest”: In a criminal proceeding, there is really no distinguishable difference between a plea of guilty or no contest. They carry the same weight of culpability. Guilty tells the court you did the offense. No contest tells the court that you aren’t saying you did or didn’t do the offense, but that you are willing to accept the responsibility for the offense. If you anticipate accepting responsibility, as a rule of thumb, plead no contest. When you accept a plea of guilty or no contest, the court WILL SENTENCE YOU. Your sentence could be a variety of things, but usually is a plea to a fine, probation, or deferred adjudication.
A plea to a FINE OR PROBATION always will be a final conviction on your record. YOU DO NOT WANT A FINAL CONVICTION ON YOUR RECORD.
A plea to DEFERRED ADJUDICATION will prevent a final conviction on your record (except for CDL holders). If you anticipate taking a plea, ALWAYS ASK FOR DEFERRED ADJUDICATION. THIS WILL PREVENT A FINAL CONVICTION (except for CDL holders).
“I plead Not Guilty”: In a criminal proceeding, not guilty tells the court that you wish to contest the allegations in the court’s charge. You are stating to the court that you are asserting your innocence to the Government’s charge and that you would like the Government to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Typically, the court will set you for a trial date, whereby the police officer, sheriff, constable or DPS officer who cited you, will be asked to appear at court. You will have a right to confront the witness and ask him questions related to your case. If the jury or judge finds in your favor, your case will be dismissed and jeopardy will attach. If you lose and you are found guilty of the offense, you can expect to be fined a substantial amount above the original ticket price.
CAUTION: If you ever have any doubt as to what plea to enter, consult an Attorney. Once you take a plea, a timer begins to run. You man only appeal a final conviction up to the tenth (10th) day after the judgment was entered by the court. After that, you may be stuck with a conviction on your record.
We are trained in the laws. We are Attorneys of Texas. Let us fight for you.
Should I take Defensive Driving?
Our answer to you would be, IT DEPENDS.
Defensive Driving is a method by which many persons who are eligible may be able to keep a traffic citation from becoming a conviction on their record. It typically requires the offender to plead to a citation, pay court costs and fines related to that offense, purchase and enroll in a driver safety course, achieve and purchase a driver safety course certificate, obtain and purchase a driving record from DPS, and then forward all documents and payments to the court.
So…should I do it? If you have the time, money, patience, organization, and you qualify for a Driver Safety Course, it may be the right fit for you.
So…why should I NOT do it? Beyond the expenses, you will have to go to court on your own. This can sometimes take hours or multiple court appearances over several months, normally a minimum of ninety(90) days. As well, the driver safety course takes time, at bare minimum four(4) to six (6) hours. And if the court does not receive all of the previously mentioned items in the paragraphs above, they can STILL CONVICT you as violating the terms of your agreement. Many times, hiring an Attorney will save you peace of mind and time. Our ticket fighters keep these two principles at the forefront of our legal representation.
Why was I denied the renewal of my Texas Driver’s License?
You may have lost the right to your Driver’s License for a variety of reasons, not limited to the following:
- Administrative Suspensions (Chapter 524 of the Texas Transportation Code): You receive these suspensions for Failing to Pass Tests for Intoxication and Refusing to take Tests for Intoxication. They begin on the 40th day after you receive notice of suspension or are presumed to have received notice. However, you have the right to contest and appeal these suspensions at an Administrative License Revocation Hearing. To do this, you need to assert your right to a hearing WITHIN fifteen (15) days after the date you received notice or were presumed to have received notice.
- Failure to Pay Surcharges: If you fail to pay surcharges (as covered elsewhere in our Q&A), DPS will deny your right to renew your license. To overcome this penalty, you will be forced to pay all of your outstanding surcharges or get caught up on your payment plan with DPS, and you will most likely encounter additional expenses, such as reinstatement costs and administrative fees.
- Judicially Ordered Suspension: If you received a conviction in a criminal case, and a term of your sentence, probation or deferred adjudication was a suspension, DPS will invalidate your license by the judicial decree until the expiration of that time frame. We typically see suspension periods from 90 days upwards of 1-2 years.
- Failing to Appear for Court: If you fail to appear for a court date, where you received valid notice, AND the court participates in the Omnibase Services of Texas (see Omnibase for a list of participants), DPS will deny the renewal of your Texas Driver’s License until you resolve your cases. Omnibase and DPS were granted this power under Chapter 706 of the Texas Transportation Code. Typically can expect to receive some paper notice from DPS identifying what courts are preventing the renewal of your license and what charges/costs you are facing in those courts.This paper document is almost always entitled “Notice of Denial of Renewal of Texas Driver’s License”. It does not mean your license is invalidated, but that you will not be able to renew your license at the expiration period stamped on your license.
We are familiar with all areas of the Transportation Code and the policies of the Texas Department of Public Safety.Give our attorneys your trust, and we will fight for you.
I am under Twenty Five (25) years old or Eighteen (18)years old…Now What?
On September 1, 2005, the Texas Senate passed SB1005 which created a variety of requirements for young drivers. These were codified in Article 45.051 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Basically, if you are under Twenty-Five (25) the law REQUIRES you to complete a driver safety course (DSC) for any moving violation. If you are under Eighteen (18) you are required to do both a driver safety course and a road test. Violating these provisions will be a conviction.
The expenses on these driver safety courses will add up…not only will you have to pay the court fees (court costs and fines), but then you will have to pay a private agency a sum of money to take a driver safety course and pay for a certificate. A DSC also takes time, usually between4-6 hours. Some courts will also require you to demonstrate proof of your driving record from the Department of Public Safety.
Boiled down: COURT COSTS + FINE + DSC +CERTIFICATE + DRIVING RECORD + TIME = $$$ = NO GOOD!!!
With our help, we can guide you through these confusing laws, and, in many cases, help you to avoid these needless expenses.
What happens if I have an Insurance Violation?
Section 601.001 of the Texas Transportation Code provides for the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act.
A conviction for Failing to Provide Proof Financial Responsibility (FPPFR) under this section can result in Criminal Penalties (Subchapter G), Suspension of your Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle Registration (Subchapter H), Impoundment of your Vehicle (Subchapter I), Reinstatement Fees, and Surcharges (section 708.103). The Surcharges alone will amount to $250.00 PER YEAR.
Most People do not realize that in Texas, you only need to demonstrate PROOF OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. You can do so by showing ONLY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Proof of motor vehicle liability insurance policy (under 601, Subchapter D)
- A Surety Bond with the Department of Public Safety (under 601.121)
- A Deposit of Cash or Securities with the Comptroller (under 601.122)
- A Deposit of Cash or Cashier’s Check with County Judge (under 601.123)
- Self-Insurance (for persons whose name more than 25 motor vehicles are registered) (under 601.124)
We know the law…we can help…we are ticket fighters. There is no reason for you to suffer a headache, stress, and financial penalties these cases bring.
What are Surcharges?
Surcharges are a fancy way for the Government to take even more money from your wallet. In 2003, the Texas Legislature began the Driver Responsibility Program with Section 708 of the Texas Transportation Code. Each year, the Department of Public Safety assesses surcharges against persons who received final convictions on certain offenses.
These surcharges are separate from court costs and fines that you may have to pay the court…these are paid to the Department of Public Safety! If you fail to pay these surcharges, DPS will DENY THE RENEWAL OF YOUR TEXAS DRIVERS LICENSE! (To which you will then have to pay MORE MONEY to reinstate your driver’s license ON TOP of the surcharges).
There are MANY WAYS TO GET SURCHARGES!!!
Moving Violations: Convictions for any moving violation will create “points” on your driving record. Once you have accrued six points, you will be surcharged $100 for the first six points and $25 for each additional point thereafter.
Intoxication Violations: In short, if you refused a breathalyzer, you can expect to be surcharged $1,000 per year for up to three (3) years. If you had a second or subsequent conviction relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, you can expect to be surcharged $1,500 per year for up to three (3) years. AND, if you ever provide or have taken from you a sample of your blood, breath, or urine and the test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.16, DPS will surcharge you $2,000.00 per year for up to three (3) years.
Driving While License Invalid: Convictions carry a surcharge of $250.00 per year.
Failing to Provide Proof of Financial Responsibility: Convictions carry a surcharge of $250.00 per year.
Driving Without Valid License: Convictions carry a surcharge of $100 per year up to three (3) years.
DO NOT GIVE THE GOVERNMENT ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY.
Our experienced Attorneys can prevent these needless expenses from ever resulting. Let us fight your case.
What happens if I get a Ticket and I am a CDL?
By Law, a conviction for a Traffic violation can have drastic effects on your employment as a Commercial Driver (CDL). The key here is the word “CONVICTION”. Section 522 of the Transportation Code provides that a conviction for a CDL includes “…a plea of guilty or no lo contendre [no contest] accepted by the court…[and] the payment of fines or court costs”.
What does this mean to a CDL? A normal driver would be able to accept a plea of no contest for defensive driving or for deferred adjudication, deferring a finding of guilt, and preventing any conviction on their record. However, Section 522 of the Transportation Code effectively changes that language for CDL’s, creating a situation where you CANNOT take a driver safety course, defensive driving or a deferred adjudication plea. The Texas Legislature figuratively “handcuffs” the CDLDriver from keeping a traffic violation off his or her driving record.
What will this do to a CDL? Under Section 522, Subchapter H, of the Transportation Code, provides that a traffic violation CONVICTION can DISQUALIFY a CDL Driver from driving a commercial motor vehicle for no less than sixty (60) days, one-hundred and twenty (120) days, one (1)year, three (3) years, or even for his or her ENTIRE LIFE.
Unlike most people, you cannot afford to have a conviction. YOUR CDL = YOUR JOB = YOUR MONEY = YOUR FAMILY & LIFE. Our Attorneys know what you are up against…AND WE CAN HELP.
Contact Mohr Law
South Texas Office
Justice League Property
3030 Nacogdoches Rd., Suite 222-H
San Antonio, Texas 78217
Office: (210) 212-7589
North Texas Office
Cedar Ridge Building
950 East State Highway 114, Suite 160
Southlake, Texas 76092
Office: (817) 345-3637