Traffic Cases

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Your traffic ticket or summons will specify a date and time on which you are required to appear in court. At the time of your first appearance, you will be identified as the defendant, and you will be asked how you plead to the offense with which you are charged.

Traffic offenses, generally, are punishable by a fine of not more than $200.00 and all costs of court.

Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.


Traffic Cases

You may plead Guilty or Nolo Contendre (No Contest) and pay the fine amount listed below, or you may refer to the Defensive Driving option. Drivers under 18 who get tickets are required to appear in Court with their parents.

Your traffic ticket or summons will specify a date and time on which you are required to appear in court. At the time of your first appearance, you will be identified as the defendant, and you will be asked how you plead to the offense with which you are charged.(plea form)

How to Plead

  • If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for pretrial. You may waive your right to a trial by jury and have the case heard by the court. At your request, the court will subpoena a witness on your behalf, but you must furnish the court with the name, address, and telephone number of each witness prior to trial. You will be required to attend a pre-trial hearing.
  • If you refuse to enter a plea, the court will enter a plea of not guilty for you, and your case will be set for a jury trial unless you waive that right.
  • If you plead guilty or no contest, the court will find you guilty and assess a fine as punishment. A plea of no contest has the same result as a plea of guilty, but it may not be used against you in any civil proceeding that might arise from the incident leading to your arrest.
  • If you are pleading guilty or no contest, you may present any evidence or documents to the court in connection with the offense and you may explain any mitigating circumstances that may affect punishment.
  • If you are unsure about how to plead, do not hesitate to enter a plea of not guilty.
  • The court may be required to provide you certain notices, and it is your responsibility to notify the court of any change of address.

If You Do Not Want to Appear in Court - Paying the Acceptable Fine

Payments must be made before the time you are scheduled to appear in court and you must have the Traffic Ticket Reply Form together with your payment of the acceptable fine. The acceptable fine amount will include the court costs for the offense with which you are charged. Click here for information regarding acceptable fine amounts.

(NOTE: Payment of the acceptable fine constitutes a finding of guilt in open court as though you had entered a plea of no contest.)

  • By Mail
    If you pay by mail, you must pay by cashier's check or money order, payable to the Smith County Justice Court.
  • In Person
    If you are paying in person, you may pay your fine in cash, by cashier's check or money order.
  • On-Line
    Payment may also be made online through Government Payment Services or by calling Government Payment Services at 1-888-604-7888. The following fees apply when paying through Government Payment Services:
    • You will need to know the pay location number of the court when paying online by debit or credit card.
    • You can either call the number above, click their link, or use the links below if you know the Justice of the Peace Precinct where the payment should be made.
Court Payment Location Code  Pay Now Link 
JP 1 
NA  NA 
JP 2 
4065  JP 2 Pay Now Link  
JP 3 
NA   NA 
JP 4 4067  JP 4 Pay Now Link  
JP 5 4068  JP 5 Pay Now Link  

Service fees charged for making payments by phone or online are as follows:

Payment AMount Service Fee 
$1.00 - $100.00
$10.00 
$100.01 - $200.00
$18.00 
$200.01 - $300.00
$24.00 
$300.01 - $400.00
$32.00 
$400.01 and up
8% 

If You Do Not Want to Appear in Court - NOT Paying the Acceptable Fine

With this option you are essentially entering a Plea of Not Guilty by Mail. Before the time you must appear in court, you may mail or bring to the court a plea of not guilty using the Traffic Ticket Reply Form . The court will set your case for a jury trial. If you notify the court that you waive your right to a jury trial, your case will be set for a trial by the court. You will be required to attend a pre-trial hearing.

No Insurance Cases (Failure to Provide Evidence of Financial Responsibility)

  • A person may not operate a motor vehicle in this state unless financial responsibility is established for that vehicle through:
    • a motor vehicle liability insurance policy;
    • a surety bond filed with the Department of Public Safety;
    • a deposit of cash or securities made with the Comptroller;
    • a deposit of cash or cashier's check made with the County Judge; or
    • self-insurance
  • A person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle without an insurance policy or other evidence of financial responsibility. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $175.00 or more than $350.00.
  • If a person has been previously convicted of an offense under this section, an offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $350.00 or more than $1,000. 00
  • It is a defense to prosecution for this offense that you produce to the court proof of liability insurance or other evidence of financial responsibility that was valid at the time that the offense is alleged to have occurred.
  • You are entitled to have a ticket for "no financial responsibility" dismissed if you have an automobile liability insurance policy or other proof of financial responsibility that was valid at the time of the offense.
  • After the court verifies the evidence of liability insurance or other proof of financial responsibility, the court shall dismiss the charge.
  • A person commits Class B misdemeanor if the person displays or causes or permits to be displayed an insurance document knowing that the document is counterfeit, tampered with, altered, or fictitious.
  • A person commits a 3rd degree felony if the person makes or possesses, with the intent to sell, circulate, or pass, a counterfeit insurance document.
  • If you are convicted of the offense of "no financial responsibility," and a prior conviction was reported to the Department of Public Safety, the Department will suspend your driver's license and vehicle registration unless you file and maintain evidence of financial responsibility with the Department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction.

Convictions

Convictions in Traffic Cases

  • If you plead guilty or no contest, or if you are found guilty after trial, you will be assessed a fine as punishment. You will also be responsible for court costs. Full payment of the fine and costs will satisfy your obligations in connection with the charge filed against you.

Time to Pay the Fine and Costs

  • If you need to make arrangements for more time to pay your fine and court costs, you will need to make that request to the court. If you request to pay over a period of more than thirty (30) days, a $25.00 Time Payment Fee will be assessed. This fee is required by Article 103.033 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Failure to Pay the Fine and Costs

  • Denial of Renewal of Driver's License: If you fail to pay the fine and costs as directed, the court may issue a failure to appear notify the Department of Public Safety to deny the renewal of your driver's license. You will be required to pay an administrative fee of $30 per offense prior to the renewal of your license. This fee is required by Section 706.006 of the Texas Transportation Code.
  • Collection Department: Failure to pay the fine and costs in a timely manner could also result in the offense being referred to the Smith County Collection Dept. for collection of the fines and fees.

Failure to Appear on Your Court Date

If you fail to take care of your ticket prior to the appearance date on the ticket or fail to appear in court as required, the court will enter your drivers license number into the OMNI system to prevent you from renewing your drivers license until the matter is resolved. You may also be charged with an additional offense for violating your promise to appear. Entering this offense into the OMNI base system carries additional fees, and the punishment for the offense of "violate promise to appear" is a fine of not more than $200.00 plus costs of court.
  • If a warrant is issued, you may avoid arrest by:
    • Posting Bond at the Justice Court: You may post bond at the Justice Court in which your case is filed. Bond may be in the form of a Surety Bond or a Cash Bond. If you are posting a cash bond, you must tender cash in the form of a cashier's check or money order, payable to the Justice Court, in the amount of the bond. A magistrate must consider allowing you a personal bond. When you have posted bond, you will be notified of the date and time you are to appear in court.
    • Paying the Fine at the Court: You may pay the acceptable fine either in person at the Justice Court in which your case is filed or by mailing the fine to the Justice Court. Fines may be paid by cashier's check or money order payable to the Justice of the Peace, or in cash. If you pay the fine, no further court appearance is necessary.
  • You will remain subject to arrest until you post bond or otherwise dispose of your case. If you are arrested, you will be required to give bond to secure your release from custody and appear in court at a later time to answer for this charge.

New Trial and Appeal for Traffic Cases

New Trial

  • A motion for new trial must be made within one (1) day after the rendition of the judgment in your case. A motion for new trial cannot be made afterward.
  • The judge has ten (10) days after the date the judgment was entered within which to grant a new trial. If a motion for new trial is not granted before the eleventh (11th) day after the date the judgment was entered, the motion for new trial is considered denied.

Appeal

  • An appeal from a judgment of a Smith County Justice Court is heard by a Smith County Criminal Court at Law.
  • Should you wish to appeal the decision in your case, you must file an Appeal Bond in the amount of two (2) times the amount of the fine and costs. The bond is filed with the Justice Court in which your case was filed, and must be filed not later than the tenth (10th) day after the date the judgment was entered.
  • When the appeal bond has been timely filed, all proceedings in the Justice Court will cease.

Texas Point System

The Texas Point System is the Driver Responsibility program and Driver's License Surcharge. For questions concerning the Driver Responsibility Program, including the Driver's License Points and Surcharges, contact the Department of Public Safety or call (512) 424-2000

The Driver Responsibility Program establishes a system that assesses a surcharge based on certain traffic offenses committed on or after September 1, 2003. Points are assigned to moving violations, and are applied to driver based on the type of offense and the time period in which the offense was committed. Points remain on the driver's record for a period of three (3) years. Points are accumulated as follows:

  • Two (2) points are assigned for a moving violation conviction in Texas or another state.
  • Points will not be assigned for speeding less than 10% over the speed limit or seat belt convictions.
  • Failing to secure a child in safety seat system if required is considered a moving violation.
  • Three (3) points are assigned for a moving violation conviction in Texas or another state that resulted in an accident.
  • The three year time period is calculated from the conviction dates.

A surcharge will be assessed when the driver accumulates six (6) or more points during a three-year period. The driver will pay a $100 surcharge for the first 6 points and $25 for each additional point. Drivers who are convicted of "failure to maintain financial responsibility" will pay an annual surcharge of $250.00. For questions concerning the Driver Responsibility Program, including the Driver's License Points and Surcharges, contact the Department of Public Safety (512) 424-2000.


Defensive Driving Options

You may request that your citation be dismissed by successfully completing a driving safety course or a motorcycle operator training course. You may lose the right to take the course if you fail to perform the following:

  • On or before the original due date on your citation
    • Enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere;
    • Waive your right to a trial by jury;
    • Submit to the court a Driving Safety Course Request Form;
    • Hold a valid Texas driver's license, or be an active member of the United States Military;
    • Provide proof of auto liability insurance showing you were a covered driver on the date of the offense;
    • Pay the Driving Safety Course fee to the court in the amount of $112.00
  • You have the following options:
    • Mail the request, along with your fee and court costs of $112.00, proof of insurance, and a copy of your drivers license postmarked no later than the original due date on your citation; or
    • You may bring in the request, payment, proof of insurance and copy of our drivers license on or before the original due date on your citation.

NOTE: You must NOT have taken an approved Defensive Driving course within the 12 months period preceding the date of the offense.

You do NOT qualify to take Driving Safety if:

  • You are charged with speeding 25 or more MPH above the posted speed limit; or
  • You are charged with passing a school bus; or
  • You are charged with violating a duty to stop and give information; or
  • The offense was committed in a construction or maintenance work zone when workers were present; or
  • You hold a commercial driver's license or held one at the time the offense was committed.

Upon Completing the Course and Dismissal

If you are allowed to take a driving safety course or motorcycle operator training course, you have 90 days to complete the course and present to the court:

  • A signed uniform certificate of completion of the driving safety course completion, or verification of completion of the motorcycle operator training course;
  • Your official driving record as maintained by the Department of Public Safety to show that no driving safety course or motorcycle operator training course was completed within the 12 month period preceding the date of the offense;
  • An Affidavit stating that you were not taking a driving safety course or motorcycle operator training course, as applicable, under Article 45.0511, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, on the date the request to take the course was made, and that you had not completed such a course that is not shown on your driving record within the 12 months preceding the date of the offense; or if you are a member of the United States military forces serving on active duty who does not have a valid Texas driver's license, an Affidavit stating that you were not taking a driving safety course or motorcycle operator training course, as applicable, in another state on the date the request to take the course was made and had not completed such a course within 12 months before the offense date.

NOTE: You may obtain a copy of your official driving record Online from the Texas Department of Public Safety by submitting an Application for Copy of a Driver Record (DR-1) to the Department of Public Safety.

Failure to Comply

  • If you fail to comply with the requirements for a driving safety or motorcycle operator training course dismissal, the court will notify you to appear to show cause why the evidence was not timely submitted to the court. Failure to appear as required in the notice, or failure to show good cause, will result in the imposition of judgment requiring you to pay the fine.
  • Failure to appear at this show cause hearing shall constitute an offense punishable by a maximum fine in the amount of $200.00 plus costs of court.

NOTE: You may obtain a copy of your official driving record Online from the Texas Department of Public Safety by submitting an Application for Copy of a Driver Record (DR-1) to the Department of Public Safety.

Driving Safety Course with Child Safety Seat

If you are charged with transporting a child who is not secured in a child passenger safety seat system or who is not secured by a safety belt, you may complete a specialized driving safety course for instruction in the proper use of child passenger safety seat systems.

You are NOT qualified to request a specialized driving safety course:

  • if you hold a commercial driver's license
  • for offenses committed in a construction and maintenance work zone while workers were present.

On or before the appearance date on you ticket, you must follow the same steps as outlined for the requirements of a Defensive Driving safety course as outlined above, with the exception that you must submit to the court a Specialized Driving Safety Course Request Form.

NOTE: You are required to obtain a copy of your official driving record which may be obtained Online from the Texas Department of Public Safety by submitting an Application for Copy of a Driver Record (DR-1) to the Department of Public Safety.

Members of the United States Military

  • If you are a member of the United States military forces serving on active duty, you need not to have a Texas driver's license. You must however, submit an Affidavit stating that you were not taking a course in another state, and that you have not completed such a course within the 12 months preceding the date of the offense.
  • You must also submit an Affidavit stating that you are an active member of the United States Military.
  • You may obtain a copy of your official driving record Online from the Texas Department of Public Safety by submitting an Application for Copy of a Driver Record (DR-1) to the Department of Public Safety.

Juveniles with Traffic Tickets

Appearance in Court Required

If you are sixteen (16) years of age or younger, the law requires that you appear in court with a parent, guardian, or managing conservator. A person sixteen (16) years of age or younger cannot pay the fine by mail. You must call the court and make an appointment to appear before the judge with a parent or guardian.

Parent Must Appear with Juvenile

  • The court is required to take the plea of a person sixteen (16) years of age or younger in open court a parent or legal guardian must accompany the juvenile to court.
  • Failure of the parent to appear as required by law is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 and may result in the arrest of the parent.

Obligation to Provide Current Address

  • A juvenile and the juvenile's parent have an obligation to provide the court with the current address and residence of the juvenile. This obligation does not end when the juvenile reaches seventeen (17) years of age, but continues until the case is concluded and any judgment is fully satisfied.
  • Notice of a new address must be given to the court, in writing, on or before the seventh (7th) day after the date the juvenile or the juvenile's parent changes residence.
  • Failure to notify the court of the current address is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00.

When Juveniles Become Adults

If a juvenile charged with an offense filed in the Justice Court fails to appear in court as required, the charge will NOT be dropped. The individual continues to be obligated to appear to conclude the case. Failure to appear in court for these charges could result in warrants being issued, the offense being placed on the OMNI System, or turned over for collection.

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