How Do Harris County Tickets Compare to the Rest of Texas?
October 23, 2023at7:00 AM
When it comes to traffic tickets, not all counties in Texas are created equal. Harris County, which contains the city of Houston, is one of the largest counties in the state. With over 4.7 million residents, it's no surprise that Harris County tickets are common. But how do Harris County tickets compare to other counties in Texas when it comes to traffic violations? Here’s an overview of some key differences:
In general, base fine amounts for common traffic violations like speeding, running a red light, and stop sign violations tend to be comparable statewide. However, where major discrepancies arise is in additional fees and surcharges added on top of base fines. Harris County tickets tend to have much higher fees than more rural counties. For instance, a simple speeding ticket base fine may be $200 statewide, but total fines and fees could exceed $300 in Harris County.
In addition to fines, court costs are another area where expenses add up quickly. Harris County tickets come with higher court costs than other Texas counties on average. Costs are used to fund the county courts and can range from $50-$100+ per citation. More serious traffic violations involve higher court costs in Harris County.
Texas allows drivers to take defensive driving to dismiss certain traffic tickets and avoid points on your license, but the rules differ by county. In Harris County tickets, defensive driving is limited to once per 12 month period. Other counties allow it once per year, providing more flexibility. And in some rural counties, the defensive driving option exists for more types of moving violations.
Counties take varying approaches when it comes to payment plan availability for traffic tickets. Harris County only offers payment plans in limited circumstances, usually for extreme financial hardship. Many other Texas counties readily grant payment plans to spread out traffic ticket costs over 3-6 months. This provides residents more financial breathing room.
Excessive unpaid Harris County tickets can quickly lead to a suspended license in as little as 60 days if you fail to appear in court or address citations. Comparatively, smaller counties with fewer resources are less likely to move as swiftly to suspend licenses for unpaid tickets. However, they legally can if too much time lapses.
With limited roadways and lower populations, many rural Texas counties simply issue fewer traffic tickets overall compared to densely-packed metro areas like Houston. Harris County tickets are given out more frequently due to the greater volume of drivers and roads to patrol. Sheriff’s deputies and HPD officers cast a wider enforcement net.