Across the country, each state has the power to create and maintain its own driving record system—and the great state of Texas is no exception. Specifically, the Texas Department of Public Safety (like many other state authorities across the United States) utilizes a point system to record traffic violations.
By having a better understanding of how Texas driving records and points work, drivers licensed in this state can have a better idea of what to expect if they ever commit an offense. Likewise, knowing the options for getting points removed from a Texas driving record can help drivers avoid higher insurance premiums and other consequences.
How Does the Texas Point System Work?
The Texas driver record system is pretty straight-forward. Any moving violation for which you are cited and convicted is subject to points. This remains true regardless of whether the violation occurs in our out of state. Non-moving violations (such as parking tickets), on the other hand, will not result in points on your record. Still, non-moving violations can still come with hefty fines, so it’s best to avoid them.
Some of the most common examples of traffic violations that can lead to points on your license in Texas include:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Illegal U-turns
- Driving without insurance
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Failure to yield
The number of points that will be assigned to your license will depend on the violation. Most moving violations (both in and out of state) result in two points, though violations that result in an accident can cost you up to three points on your license. All points stay on your Texas driving record for three years from the conviction date.
Drivers can check for points on their Texas driving records any time by visiting the Department of Public Safety Licensee Driver Records website. This is also a great place to check your driver license status and request a copy of your record by mail.
“Fun” Fact: Texas Driver Responsibility Program
Up until 2019, Texas also used a surcharge system. Known as the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), this system assessed fines to drivers who accumulated excessive points on their records. Those with six or more points on their records, for example, could expect an annual $100 fine until the points were dropped. If a driver accumulated seven or more points on his or her record within 24 months’ time, the license could even be suspended.
In late 2019, Texas’ 86th Legislature voted to repeal this program. Those with outstanding fines were still required to pay them, but license suspensions under the program were waived and no additional DRP fines have been issued.
How to Reduce Points on Your Texas Driving Record
If you have points on your Texas driving record, they’ll automatically “fall off” your record three years after the date of your conviction. Keep in mind that this may not be the same as the date of the violation, particularly if you took the matter to court and lost. In this case, the conviction date will be considered the day you appeared in court.
If you have pending charges for moving violations, you may be able to avoid additional points on your record by pleading not guilty to the charges and requesting a court hearing. Disputing a traffic charge can be difficult, however, so you may want to consult with an attorney to help your case.
If all else fails, you can always explore the possibility of having points removed from your record by completing a safe driving course or similar class. In some cases, completing a state-approved defensive driving course may not only remove the points from a driver’s license, but dismiss the charge altogether.
The most important thing here is to ensure that the class you enroll in is approved in your state. The best way to do this is to reach out to the court or jurisdiction where your violation was charged. Typically, you can enroll in these classes either online or in-person to suit your needs.
Drivers are expected to pay for the costs of their own classes, although the money saved in insurance premiums and other fees can make it more than worth the expense. Plus, drivers will walk away with some new tips and strategies for safe driving that could help them avoid future violations and/or accidents.
Avoid Texas Driver’s License Points with Safe Driving
Nobody is perfect—and making a mistake behind the wheel doesn’t have to ruin your driving record. By having a better understanding of how the Texas point system works and how to get points dropped from your license, you can keep your driving record clear. This, in turn, can keep you safe on the road and keep your insurance premiums down!