The point system is a way to track the driving behavior of those in Texas. This “point system” attaches points to a driver’s record in the state, and helps determine habitual offenders, and offers more severe penalties for those who accumulate points. If a driver gets too many points, it could ultimately lead to a driver license suspension. While certainly not alone in the country with its point system (most states employ a similar system) Texas has a particularly strict system with low thresholds.
In addition to this point system, some states have included financial assessments or surcharges for drivers who reach certain point levels. Texas is one of these states. In Texas, drivers may pay significant charges each year for a period of 3 years once certain point levels have been reached. They also employ a conviction-based surcharge system.
While some violations would lead to an increase in auto insurance premiums for drivers, they now can also lead to serious financial penalties paid to the state for a period of years. These can add up quickly, and be quite significant. The fact that they must be paid multiple times over multiple years makes them particularly painful.
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program
The Texas program is the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP). In the Texas DRP, some minor violations do not result in points to your license. A speeding ticket that is for less than 10% of the posted speed will not add points to your license nor will a simple seat belt violation. Beware however that in Texas, not using an appropriate child safety seat will incur points.
As mentioned, the state of Texas has a low point threshold before some harsh penalties begin to take effect. This threshold is just 6 points within a three year period. Points are not difficult to compute as the Texas system is pretty black and white:
- You get 2 points for a moving violation
- You get 3 points if your moving violation results in an accident.
License suspensions also have a relatively low threshold of points. Suspensions will result after 4 moving violations in a year, or 7 in a two year period.
While more serious violations may not include the addition of points to your license they can lead to more surcharges.
All in all, the DRP program in Texas results in heavy fines, heavier surcharges and assessments, and you’ll be faced with higher automobile insurance premiums.
The Cost of Bad Driving in Texas
There is virtually no top limit to what fines, surcharges, increased insurance rates, court fees and legal charges you may face for habitually poor driving in the Lone Star State. More serious violations like a DUI or DWI will result in putting you into a surcharge category that can cost thousands of dollars over the three year assessment period.
You can do the math. If you get 6 points on your driver license in a year, you will face a $100 surcharge. That figure will increase by $25 for every additional point you g you pay that $100 surcharge, with that $25 fee for each additional point that exceeds the 6. Although significant, especially when considering they are assessed for three years, they are less than the conviction-based surcharges in the state.
Conviction-Based Surcharges in Texas
The Texas system allows the state to fine you over a period of three years for the same offense.
This conviction-based surcharge is not actually a part of the point system, but is an additional, separate fine system that is implemented after certain infractions.
A DUI, intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter will result in a $1000 first-time offense surcharge. That increases to $1500 for a second of more offense. A DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 or higher carries with it a fine of $2000.
There are other violations that will garner a surcharge as well. Failure to maintain financial responsibility or insurance carries a $250 surcharge. Driving with an invalid driver license that is invalid will also result in a $250 surcharge. Driving without a license will incur a $100 surcharge.
Be aware that these surcharges are payable annually over three years. That first time DUI conviction will result in a total three year surcharge of $3,000. This of course is in addition to your initial court costs, fines, fees and of course higher insurance premiums. Failure to maintain insurance results in not just a one-time $250 fine, but a $250 surcharge paid annually for three years. That’s a total of $750.
Drivers in Texas should be aware of the heavy DRP surcharges and low threshold point system that is in place. In Texas it is not a matter of simply getting a traffic ticket, paying the fine and being done with it. The points will stay with you for a period of time and can put you into an area where punitive surcharges begin to take place. Once these surcharges are in place they are not only difficult to reduce or eliminate, but you’ll be faced with the reality of paying them for years.
Remember, your driving record is your personal driving history, so it is a good idea to check your record periodically to make sure that no erroneous information was entered. Please note that many courts will require you to submit a copy of your driving record together with the proof of defensive driving course completion. You can order your record directly from us when you register for a defensive driving course online for Texas.