driver's license texas dwli defense criminal justice

Austin Municipal Court: The Difference Between "Commitments" and "Warrants"

Austin Municipal Court:  The Difference Between “Commitment” and “Warrant”

 

I get many, many calls about fixing tickets entered into the “Failure to Appear” database, formally called the OMNI database, because these tickets will inevitably jeopardize a person’s ability to drive legally in Texas.  Tickets entered into the database will not suspend your driving privileges, but it will keep you from renewing your license if you have one or prevent you from getting a regular license if you have not yet tested and been licensed. 

 

I will talk about Austin Municipal Court here, but the advice is generally applicable to all Class C tickets in the OMNI database. 

 

If you have tickets in OMNI from Austin Municipal Court, you should search for your ticket at www.austintexas.gov/department/municipal-court.  Look at what it says next to the ticket.  If it says “commitment”, it means you have already entered a plea on the ticket of “no contest”, been convicted, and have agreed to pay it. 

 

The problem with this is that in most cases, it is very difficult to re-negotiate an outcome on the case.  You are in most instances stuck with what you agreed upon and you are going to have to pay it before it gets taken out of OMNI.  If the conviction came with surcharges or a driver’s license suspension, you are probably stuck with it. 

 

A lawyer can do very little on these tickets except perhaps file a writ (that is extraordinary and you should not count on it being done or it being successful). Hiring a lawyer may really be a waste of resources.  What you should do is go down to the “walk in” or mitigation docket from 8 am to 11 am or 1pm to 3 pm at Austin Municipal Court and speak to the judge about a manageable payment plan. 

 

Other courts outside of City of Austin may not call these “commitments” but the outcome is the same – if you agreed to pay, you got convicted, and it’s a done deal.  To get them out of OMNI you have to pay.  Sometimes in small jurisdictions, where the procedures are not as tight, the judge may directly renegotiate with you but this is just a random occurrence that you should not count on. 

 

If your tickets say “warrant” next to them, there is more hope.  A “warrant” means that you never entered a plea and you can still avoid a conviction.  Do not go running down to the court and agree to pay.  Either hire an attorney to take over, or go down to court and ask to speak with the prosecutor.  You may not be allowed to do this without posting bond due to missing your first court date, but a judge may allow you to see a prosecutor.  It’s just going to depend on who is on the bench.  I have also seen judges offer deferred disposition at the walk -in docket.  However, in Austin, the ticket will need to be disposed of AND paid, if anything is owed, before it is taken out of OMNI.

 

So, to sum up, there are two ways things can end up in OMNI – either you agreed to pay and didn’t, which limits what you can do to get it out of OMNI, or you just never showed up and you have never entered a plea.  The second is much better and helps you avoid a multitude of collateral consequences.

Common Driver's License Problems

I am a criminal defense lawyer in Austin TX.  That means I defend clients in Central Texas and throughout the state accused of a broad spectrum of crimes from Class C tickets all the way to serious misdemeanors.  One of my biggest passions and joys is restoring my clients’ driving privileges in the state of Texas.  I am good at it and I love doing it.  If you have been struggling with getting back behind the wheel legally - if you have been stuck in a cycle of surcharges, charges of driving while license invalid (DWLI), suspensions, and failure to appears - and you don’t know what to do to get your driving privileges straightened out and get your license back, you have found the right lawyer.  I do not stop until you get legal and this unfair, unjust punitive cycle  keeping you down is fixed.

 

There are many, many things that can cause you to lose your driver’s license in Texas.  In my practice, I unravel this tangle of issues and prevent any further ones from arising.

 

Here’s some examples of what I can do:

 

Certain convictions, like for DWLI and DWI, carry mandatory suspensions.  They also trigger a surcharge assessment, which is a fee you have to pay to DPS to keep your license.  Even after the mandatory suspension is up, you have to stay current on your surcharge payments to keep driving legally until the surcharge is fully paid.  If you are under a mandatory suspension, I can often get you an occupational license to keep you driving until the suspension is up.  If you cannot afford the surcharges, I can assist you in applying for a waiver to reduce or eliminate your payments based on your income. 

 

Failure to appears entered into the OMNI database will not suspend your license if it is current, but they will block you from renewing your license once you expire.  Driving on an expired license does carry criminal penalties and you can be charged with and possibly arrested for DWLI.  If you have entries in the OMNI database anywhere in Texas, I will track these down.  If they are “open” tickets and you have never pled, I will represent you in these cases and do everything I can to get a disposition that does not result in any further suspensions or surcharges.  If they are in commitment/capias status because you have already pled and agreed to pay, I will work to get you on a better payment plan so you can close the case and get it out of OMNI. 

 

If you are currently charged with DWLI in Central Texas, I will represent you on that case and work to get your driving privileges restored as part of that representation.  Often times, if you get your driving privileges restored, I can get a result worked out that will allow you to avoid a conviction for the DWLI – which will prevent a further suspension and surcharges. 

 

If you have pending tickets and do not have eligibility to drive, you need to call me before you do anything on those tickets.  Paying a moving violation – ie a ticket you got for violating a traffic law while driving – is automatically a plea of no contest.  This is an admisssion of driving, and DPS will move to suspend your license for an admission of driving without a legal license.  If you do not have a good license, this will prevent you from getting a good license.  Its not good, however easy it is, to just “pay the ticket”. As your lawyer on the ticket, I will work to get a disposition on the ticket that does not include a final conviction, protecting your ability to get a good license.

 

If you’ve never had a license, you can indeed be charged for driving while license invalid (DWLI) for driving.  DWLI emcompasses driving when you’ve never tested and gotten a license.  You can be placed under suspension, assessed surcharges, and denied your ability to test for a license for offenses that happen when you’ve never had a license before.  If you want to get a good license, and you have things preventing you from testing, I can work on these problems just as I could if you had a regular license.

 

Lastly, if you have a hearing pending with DPS in front of a judge, either a JP or Municipal Court judge, in which DPS is moving to suspend your license or revoke your license for medical reasons, you need to call me.  There may be ways to keep DPS from being successful in that motion. 

 

If the problems I’m describing sound familiar, you need to call me.  I will do a free consultation to go over the problems you are facing and develop a plan to eliminate them one by one.  There is a way out of this cycle – and I’m the lawyer to get you back behind the wheel with no fear of further arrest.