Questions and Answers

 

Failure to Appear (FTA) Program

&

The Remote Entry System (RES)

 

1. What is the Failure to Appear Program?

The Failure to Appear Program is a tool to assist cities/counties in the collection of fines associated with certain offenses by restricting the renewal of a violator’s Texas Driver License. The program was enacted during the 74th Legislature Session in 1995 and is now Chapter 706 of the Texas Transportation Code. The Statute authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) to contract with political subdivisions to deny renewal of a driver license for a failure to appear (FTA) on traffic violations. The Failure to Appear Program has been expanded several times by the Legislature to include all Class C misdemeanor offenses in which the violator is given 10 days to appear in court for prosecution (effective September, 1999), to include failures to pay or satisfy judgments (effective September, 2001) and to include all offenses that a court has jurisdiction of under Chapter 4, Code of Criminal Procedure (effective June, 2003.)

 

2. Are Political Subdivisions required to use the FTA program?

The FTA Program is a voluntary alternative or additional tool for use by political subdivisions to complement other local enforcement programs. The jurisdiction retains control of offenses and collects the proceeds from the violator.

A political subdivision (city or county) must enter into an Interlocal Cooperation Contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety to participate. Participants are expected to abide by the contractual agreement, as well as any administrative rules applicable to the program requirements. The contract is automatically renewed each year unless either party notifies the other 30 days prior to expiration that it intends not to renew.

After joining the FTA program, a political subdivision may use the program as desired. For example, the jurisdiction has the option of when to enter violations and whether or not to continue issuing warrants. A warrant can be issued in addition to entering an individual into the FTA system, but is not required. Jurisdictions may also use courtesy letters or the services of a collection agency, if desired

 

3. Who is Omnibase?

The Texas Department of Public Safety has contracted with OmniBase Services of Texas to assist with the automation of the FTA Program. The political subdivision does not have a separate contract with OmniBase.

OmniBase is the source database of original FTA record entries from the political subdivision and has an automated information system to accurately store and access records.

OmniBase maintains records on each person after compliance for five years and indefinitely on those who do not comply. OmniBase also maintains accessible customer support services including a toll free telephone number to answer and resolve questions from persons who are subject to denial of their driver license.

OmniBase provides and maintains complete records on all transactions with political subdivisions and the Department of Public Safety. Data collected from any political subdivision, including TDPS, is confidential and such data is used only for purposes established in the contract.

 

4. What is the Remote Entry Software?

The Remote Entry System (RES) is a software package developed by OmniBase specifically for the FTA Program. Upon contract confirmation from TDPS, OmniBase provides the necessary protocol and the software for electronic transmissions to the jurisdiction (each court for counties) at no cost.

The Remote Entry software package maintains violator records, transmits records, and provides reports on violators, offenses, and transmission status. In addition, this stand-alone program offers many features that can assists in the completion of reports regarding acquittal, convictions, DDC, deferred adjudication, partial payment, etc.

 

5. How are violations and violator records transmitted by political subdivisions?

Records of all violations are transmitted from the political subdivision through modem and by using the OmniBase provided RES (Remote Entry System). Records are not sent through the Internet and Internet access is not required. Political subdivisions need the following equipment:

  1. a personal computer with a Windows based operating system;
  2. a modem attached directly to the above personal computer; and
  3. access to a telephone line with dial-up long distance service.

If you are currently using a court administration package, you should be able to use it along with RES to transmit offenses. Please contact your software vendor for any additional information on this interface. It is possible and there are some jurisdictions currently in the FTA program using a mainframe. For information on mainframe use or interfacing with your court software, please contact the OmniBase Operations Manager at (512) 346-6511 ext. 109.

 

6. How is the data loaded onto the Omnibase server?

There is no direct interface to the OmniBase server. All political subdivision must transmit records to the OmniBase server via RES. The server exports all newly transmitted records to a tape, which is delivered to TDPS daily. TDPS confirms the last name, date of birth, and driver license number. TDPS will export confirmation or denial status of those records the following day. OmniBase then loads these confirmations onto the server and downloads into the RES system for the political subdivision at its next transmission time. All records denied by TDPS will be reported through RES for correction and retransmission by the political subdivision.

 

7. When are the records of violators transmitted?

A political subdivision can transmit or add violators when convenient. An automatic transmission time can also be established. The Interlocal Cooperation Contract with TDPS does require that clearance or compliance reports on violators must be transmitted within five business days after payment or final disposition. It is recommended that jurisdictions transmit regularly but no less than once per week.

 

8. What happens when a violator is transmitted to Omnibase?

OmniBase will deliver the data to TDPS in order to flag the violator's driver license in the TDPS driver license system. Once the flag is confirmed by TDPS, OmniBase mails a "Notice of Denial" letter (within 24 hours) informing each violator of the offense, the fine and courts costs for the offense, the address and phone number for the city or county reporting the offense, and a toll free number to call for information on how to resolve this matter, as well as sanctions for non-compliance.

Upon satisfactory compliance by the violator, the originating court updates the record in RES with a final disposition and plea. The updates or compliance report is transmitted by RES to OmniBase for removal of the drivers license restriction. Normally, a violator is cleared within a 72 hour period. If violations from another political subdivision have been added, the violator will remain unclear until the additional clearance report is received from the reporting court.

 

9. What does it cost?

There is no cost to start the Failure to Appear Program. There is no charge by TDPS for approval of the Interlocal Cooperation Contract and OmniBase provides the RES software and assistance to start at no cost. If your jurisdiction uses a court software vendor, they may have a separate charge to permit interface with the RES software.

The Interlocal Cooperation Contract requires the political subdivision to collect a $30.00 administrative fee from the violator at the time of disposition for each offense entered into the program. Twenty dollars ($20) of the administrative fee is paid quarterly to the State Comptroller's Office, $6.00 is paid quarterly to OmniBase and the remaining $4.00 is retained by the political subdivision. Payments to the State and OmniBase are due no later than the end of the month following the end of the quarter. Any interest on the administrative fees is retained by the jurisdiction.

 

10. How do you start the program?

Political subdivisions desiring to start the Failure to Appear Program must approve the Interlocal Cooperation Contract and forward the contract to TDPS for approval. A copy of the contract is available for download from this or the TDPS web site. Upon approval, TDPS notifies OmniBase to provide the jurisdiction the RES software and begin the program. OmniBase will need an Information Sheet from the city and each precinct desiring to use the program. The Information Sheet provides the address and phone number for OmniBase to provide violators in the “Notice of Denial” letter as well as information on the court and its equipment.

 

11. Where can I get help?

Administrative inquiries regarding the FTA program may be forwarded to (512) 346-6511 ext. 100 or by e-mail to dj@omnibase.com. If you have questions concerning computer hardware, software and/or electronic methods necessary for the transmission of your FTA records, please call (512) 346-6511, ext. 107, or ext. 108. The TDPS Failure to Appear program staff at (512) 424-5968 is also available for questions about the FTA program or the provisions of the Interlocal Cooperation Contract.