Question:  If I choose deferred adjudication for a speeding ticket are all charges dismissed?

Answer: It will depend upon your state’s laws and how deferred adjudication or adjudication withheld as it’s sometimes called, as pleas are dealt with whether the traffic ticket would be ultimately dismissed.

A basic definition of adjudication in the legal world is a judicial decision that ends a legal proceeding by a judgment of acquittal, conviction, or dismissal of the case. This will help you to understand what states mean by deferred adjudication and adjudication withheld.

For example, in Texas deferred adjudication is used as a type of probation that is only available after a plea of guilty or no contest. Once a defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the judge can postpone a finding of guilt and place the defendant on deferred adjudication. As long as the defendant follows the terms and conditions of the deferred adjudication, at the end of the probationary period, their ticket will be dismissed.

If the defendant violates the terms or conditions of the deferred adjudication, the probation can be revokes and if that happens, then the conviction does appear on the defendant’s driving record or criminal record.

So, at least in Texas the deferment (postponement) of the adjudication (in this case a guilty plea) can be permanent if the person successfully completes the terms of the probation.

When a judge allows a person to have deferred adjudication he is really postponing finding the person guilty of the offense and if you are never found guilty, due to not getting another ticket during your probationary period usually, than your ticket would be dismissed. Since there was never a conviction it would not be placed on your driving record as such either.

The Irving, TX municipal court states that the following are the standard eligibility requirements for deferred adjudication in their jurisdiction:

  • You must not have been cited with speeding 25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.
  • You must not have had deferred disposition in any court within one (1) year preceding the date of offense on your current citation.
  • You will NOT be eligible for deferred disposition if you hold a commercial driver’s license, regardless of whether you were in a commercial vehicle or personal vehicle or car.
  • Deferred disposition can only be approved after a plea of guilty or no contest is entered with the court. This plea can be entered on the deferred disposition affidavit that will be provided to you by the court.
  • In addition, you must pay the fine amount and applicable fees in full after your request is approved.
  • If the citation was issued on, or after, September 1, 2005 for a moving traffic violation, completion of a six hour Defensive Driving Course is required if you are under 25 years of age on the date of the offense.
  • You must not be convicted of any other violations of the law which occur during the deferment period.
  • If the above conditions are not met, the judgment of guilty will become final, and you will have to pay the fine in full.

Washington State also allows deferred adjudication for traffic tickets. In Washington, if you have received a traffic infraction, you may be eligible for what here is termed as a deferred finding.

A driver can qualify for a deferred finding if you have not taken this option on a traffic ticket within the last seven years. Upon successful completion of the deferral conditions your ticket will be dismissed. You may defer only one moving infraction and only one non-moving infraction each seven years.

In Florida, if you received a ticket for moving violation and elect to attend traffic school instead of getting points put on your driving record this can be known as withheld adjudication or adjudication of guilt withheld.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the benefits that come with this choice is that your state car insurance rates cannot go up and your policy cannot be cancelled due to this violation if you choose this method in which to take care of it, unless you were involved a crash where you were at fault.

While there are benefits to requesting an adjudication be withheld in Florida, the charges are not dismissed and the the violation will be entered on your Florida driver history record as an “adjudication withheld.” So here the judgment is just withheld indefinitely while in other states they use the deferral system and eventually dismiss the traffic charge after you successfully complete the conditions of your deferral.

To find out if in your state they will totally dismiss the speeding ticket if you choose to defer adjudication as a way to deal with your citation contact the court listed on your ticket and/or your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Either office should be able to inform you how your state deals with this type of plea for traffic tickets.

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Michelle Megna
Editorial Director

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.