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Q

What happens under Texas law if you cannot afford to pay a no insurance ticket? 1st and second offense?


A

You will need to check with the court which is listed on the driving without insurance tickets to find out what the penalty is not not paying the fines since the penalty may differ by county in Texas.

For example, according to the City of Dallas a failure to pay fine and fees or to appear or respond by mail per the instructions of a citation may prevent you from registering your motor vehicle and from renewing your driver's license. Additionally, a $60 delinquent fee will be added. There may also be a $30 Failure to Appear fee and a 30% collection service fee added to the total.

The city of Dallas notes that to satisfy or take care of a Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (Insurance), you will need the following information to address this citation:

  • A copy of your Declarations Page from your insurance policy covering the time period in question (if you were actually insured at the time of the citations)
  • A copy of the citation
  • Your Drivers' License

In Dallas you have 21 days from receipt of a citation to take action on the citation. Your citation could go into warrant status if not taken care of properly.

There are severe legal penalties for violating the state's financial responsibility laws. A first conviction will result in a fine between $175 and $350. Subsequent convictions could result in fines of $350 to $1,000, suspension of your driver's license, and impoundment of your automobile.

TX Transportation Code (chapter 601) contains the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act where you can look for more information about the penalties for driving without insurance.

The Texas Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to assess surcharges based on certain traffic offenses. This program does not replace other administrative suspension, or revocation actions that result from these same convictions. The surcharges assessed for this program are in addition to other reinstatement fees required for other administrative actions.

The annual surcharge is $250.00 per year and is assessed on the license of each person who during the preceding 36-month period was convicted of driving while license invalid, failing to maintain financial responsibility, or operating a vehicle that has had its registration suspended. Failure to pay the surcharge results in the suspension of your driver's license.

If you cannot pay in full your fines and surcharges for driving without insurance, thus breaking the state's financial responsibility law, you may see if there is any type of installment plan available to you. Earlier this year (2008) the Texas Department of Public Safety Commission was talking about setting up an amnesty and incentive plan to encourage drivers to pay on tickets they have thus far ignored.

The plan would offer reductions of 10 to 25 percent to those who have a clean record since the time of the violation and pay on time. Drivers also would be able to stretch out their payments under new installment options. By speaking to the courts, or DPS, you should be able to find out if these proposed rules were accepted and available as an option for you.

If you received a citation for failing to maintain financial responsibility (FTMFR), commonly referred to as "no insurance" and did not pay the fines or failed to appear in court to take care of the citations then likely you were convicted of the offenses and at the very least have fines to pay. Normally with a second or subsequent conviction for driving without insurance in TX your license is suspended by the DPS and to be reinstated you must file a SR-22.


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