As a result of nonpayment of fines associated with certain violations, political subdivisions and the State of Texas have encountered a significant loss of revenue. The TDPS offers a solution to serve the political subdivisions by denying the renewal of a driver license for failure to appear or failure to pay or satisfy a judgment ordered by a court. It is estimated that between 95 and 98 percent of the FTA offenders will comply with the political subdivisions that contract with the Department. The intent of the Failure to Appear Program is directed toward a system that requires the violator to appear before the originating court for a final disposition. This pamphlet identifies the sequence of events designed to bring both traffic and non-traffic violators to justice. During the 74th Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1504, Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 706 (formerly Vernon's Civil Statute, 6687d), authorized the Department to contract with political subdivisions to deny the renewal of an individual's driver license for failure to appear on certain traffic violations on or after September 1, 1995. In the 76th Legislative Session, House Bill 2802 amended the Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 706, to include all offenses for which the violator fails to appear, that are within the jurisdiction of the court. The main provisions of the bill are as follows:
During the 77th Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1371 further amended the Texas Transportation Code to include offenses for which an individual fails to pay or satisfy the judgment of a court order. This amendment expands the scope of the program and gives the court greater flexibility. These provisions were effective September 1, 2001. During the 78th Legislative Session, Senate Bill 782 further amended the Texas Transportation Code to include any offense that a court has jurisdiction of under Chapter 4, Code of Criminal Procedure. This provision was effective June 18, 2003. Chapter 706 of the Texas Transportation Code applies to all offenses that fall within the municipal or county court's jurisdiction, including both traffic and non-traffic violations. Traffic violations regulate a driver's conduct or condition while operating a motor vehicle, or the condition of a motor vehicle while it is being operated on a street, road or highway. Non-traffic violations are those usually found in the Penal Code of Texas and associated state laws and city ordinance.
A peace officer authorized to issue citations within the jurisdiction of the local political subdivision shall issue a written warning to each person to whom the officer issues a citation for a traffic law violation. This warning shall be provided in addition to any other warnings required by law. The warning must state in substance that if the person fails to appear in court for the prosecution of the offense, or fails to pay or satisfy a judgment ordering the payment of a fine and cost in the manner ordered by the court, the person may be denied renewal of the person's driver license. The written warning may be printed on the citation or on a separate document.
It is currently estimated that as few as 25 percent of warrants issued are brought to final disposition. This means that over one and three quarter million offenders are ultimately not brought to justice. The FTA Program does not require a warrant to be issued in response to a person's failure to appear. Whether a political subdivision issues a warrant or not is irrelevant to an offense being accepted into the FTA system. It is the opinion of the political subdivision whether or not to continue issuing warrants. However, the warrant fee can only be enforced if a warrant is issued. Some courts have decided to issue a warrant in addition to entering an individual into the FTA system, while others have stated they will no longer issue warrants.