Deferred disposition an option for Californians ticketed in Texas
By Martin Hill
November 23, 2009

When my wife and I went to Texas last year, I was pulled over three times in less than 2 weeks. Two of the three stops resulted in written 'warnings', but one of them resulted in a speeding citation. I suppose it might have been the California plates that stood out like a sore thumb, screaming 'easy money' to the revenue (traffic) officers.

The first cop who stopped us was a real piece of work. We had driven two vehicles out there and I was driving east on interstate 10 in my truck,some distance in front of my wife, when a cop pulled me over. My wife, after approaching us, then pulled over to wait for me and parked on the shoulder behind the cop car. The cop, not knowing the situation, walked up to her and asked what she was doing. She told him that she had pulled over to wait for her husband, the driver of the truck, to which the cop replied "no you didn't! you stopped because I pulled you over for speeding too!" Now, how a cop pulls someone over who is a half mile behind him is something that I would have loved to see play out in court. The sad fact is that for whatever reason, this officer boldly lied, claiming to have pulled my wife over only after finding out that we were together. My wife, not disliking police as I do, (yet at least) was surprised and unusually disgusted at this blatant outrage. The liar only gave us each a warning, though, instead of a ticket. Nevertheless, the reputation of Texas traffic cops had been inexorably established. 

The second time I got pulled over, it was late at night and we had had dinner with some friends in Austin and were on our way to Kempner. The cop approached me going the opposite direction on the highway, then flipped a U turn and pulled me over. He had purportedly used his radar gun, and gave me a ticket for speeding. Now in California, I always fight my traffic tickets and have beaten eight of them- piece of cake. In Texas, they still allow jury trials for traffic tickets, (this was done away with in California years ago, under governor Reagan).  I would have loved to gone to a jury trial for a traffic ticket, but circumstances didn't allow it, as we were back home in California when my trial date came around.

I had pled not guilty after getting several extensions, and when the trial date approached, realizing I could not make it to Leander, TX in person, I weighed my options. I didn't want the conviction to go on my record, but Leander court told me that I could not qualify for traffic school unless I had a TX drivers license. I ended up looking up traffic ticket lawyers in Texas and finally found one who returned my call. I told them I wanted to plead not guilty and asked them how much they would charge to represent me in traffic court. They said they could make it so that the ticket would not go on my record, and would charge around $300 bucks plus whatever the ticket fees were. I asked for details about what tactic they would use and their secretary told me they would file for what's called a deferred disposition.

Now $300 bucks seemed a bit steep, especialy since I'm a cheapskate, so I thanked them for their time and put google to work. Low and behold, as usual, I found that with a little legal research i could do it myself! An out of state driver can file for a request for a DEFFERRED DISPOSITION  through the mail. Basically there are a number of conditions that the judge may require for this deferrment. In my case  it involved paying a fee, and promising not to get a  ticket in Texas for three months. If I did this, and then sent them a notarized statement at the conclusion of the three months,  it would not go on my driving record. Now this is a compromise, and certainly not my ideal solution, since I never like pleading guilty, or paying government fines or penalties if at all possible. But, considering Leander was 1500+ miles away, paying a fee but not having a ticket on my record with increased insurance rates for three years was an acceptable compromise. 

The Leander court staff had been  very friendly and helpful over the phone for many months, but had never told me about the deferred disposition option until I asked them about it. They then mailed me the form and I sent it back to them with a money order in it. After three months, I sent them the notorized signed form, along with the second half of the fees, and a confirmation that i had complied with their terms by not getting another ticket in TX. It was then permanently removed from my record. Below is some of the text included on the form:

The deferral begins _____ and ends ____ 
"Under the authority of article 45.051, 45.0511 and 45.053, Texas code of criminal procedure, the court orders finding of guilty shall not be final and that no judgement shall be rendered thereon, and the imposition of the fine suspended for // days from this date, on the condition that the defendant complete the following (items checked) and provide proof of same:

1) pay State Fees of $102 by (no personal or business checks)



6) Shall not be subsequently convicted of any moving traffic violation incurred in the state of Texas during the state deferral period, regardless of final conviction date.

15) Upon the completion of the deferral period return to the Leander municipal court a copy of the affidavit below, notarized, stating you have complied with this order. (failure to sign affidavit will result in conviction being reported to dps even if all fees have been paid)

The court further orders that if at the conclusion of the deferral period, the defendant presents the above required evidence that he/she has complied with the conditions imposed, the case will be dismissed.

If the defendant fails to keep the terms of this deferral, the deferral may be revoked, the original fee imposed and the conviction may be reported as required by law and a warramt may issue for your arrest.


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