Texas Public Traffic Records

Texas Public Traffic Records

Texas public traffic records comprise the driving and traffic history of people with Texas driver's licenses. Within these records, one can often find details about a driver's identity, license status, traffic and driving-related offenses, and administrative sanctions.

In Texas, the courts and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) produce and preserve traffic records. However, the records held by the courts pertain more to a driver's wrongdoings and the resulting proceedings within the judicial system. Meanwhile, the Department of Public Safety's traffic records encompasses a license holder's traffic violations, accidents, and license restrictions.

Are Traffic Records Public in Texas?

Yes, for the most part. The Texas Public Information Act (PIA) permits access to traffic records maintained by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). For this reason, an individual can request their record or that of another person from the DPS.

However, the DPS may withhold personal information from disclosure if the requester does not have the record holder’s consent. The only scenario where the DPS will release such information without the DL/ID holder's consent is if the requester:

  • Verifies their identity;
  • Certifies that a federal or state law permits the use of personal information; and
  • Attests that the information will only be used for the stated purpose and as given by law—for example, in notifying a license holder of a towed or impounded vehicle.

The public can also access traffic records retained within the court system unless prohibited by law, but the Texas Public Information Act does not control this access. Instead, statutory law, common law, and court rule direct the dissemination of the court’s traffic case records.

What do Texas Traffic Records Contain?

The contents of a Texas traffic record include:

  • A driver's full legal name
  • Current address
  • Date of birth
  • License number
  • License status
  • All collisions, moving violations, and administrative actions against one's license (i.e., license suspensions, revocations, and disqualifications)

It is worth noting that the above only constitutes information found in a traffic/driver record maintained by the Department of Public Safety. If a Texas traffic court created the record because of a traffic proceeding, it would bear more case-related data, such as the docket information, pleadings, convictions, and sentences.

Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Texas?

Yes, any citation received in Texas goes on a person's traffic/driver record. The Department of Public Safety reports both moving violations (i.e., traffic offenses committed while a vehicle was being operated) and non-moving violations on driver records.

Furthermore, a citation can appear on someone's criminal record if it leads to a misdemeanor or felony charge or conviction.

Types of Traffic Citations in Texas

Traffic citations issued in Texas typically fall into two categories:

Minor traffic citations: This comprises parking and other non-moving violations—offenses that the law does not deem major or severe. Offenders can usually resolve these violations by paying a small fine. Examples include speeding, no seat belt, parking in a no-parking zone, and following too closely.

Major traffic citations: Certain traffic citations issued in Texas are for major offenses, sometimes called criminal traffic violations. Ordinarily, Texas classifies most major traffic violations as Class C misdemeanors—offenses punishable with fines, not prison sentences. However, the state will occasionally consider an offense a felony, and a traffic offender will be subject to substantial fines and long-term imprisonment. Not surprisingly, the major traffic citations are often moving offenses like hit and run, driving without a license, driving while intoxicated (DWI), and reckless driving.

Texas Traffic Citation Lookup

An individual can look up a Texas traffic citation using the public inquiry or case search system featured on the website of the court with jurisdiction over the traffic case. Usually, the interested party will need to input a last name and birth date or driver's license number to retrieve the citation.

Another way to look up a traffic citation in Texas is to contact the court stated on one's ticket/citation.

How to Lookup my Texas Traffic Records

Texas license holders can request their driver records from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to look up their traffic records. There are six types of driver records that a person can order from the Texas DPS:

  • Type 1 (the Status Record): This record contains a driver's license holder's name, birth date, license status, and latest home address.
  • Type 2 (the Three-Year Driving History): Carries Type 1 information and a list of crashes (where the offender received a ticket) and moving violations within the last three years.
  • Type 2A (the Certified Three-Year Driving History): The certified version of the Type 2 driver record.
  • Type 3 (the Complete Driving History): Contains the license holder's name, birth date, license status, and a list of all collisions (regardless of if a ticket was issued) and violations (both moving and non-moving) recorded by the DPS.
  • Type 3A (the Certified Complete Driving History): The certified version of the Type 3 driver record.
  • Type AR (the Abstract Driver Record): The certified abstract of a license holder's complete driving record.

After determining the preferred record, an individual can request it via mail or online. The Department of Safety recommends the Online Driver Record Request System to persons who wish to look up their driver records.

The online system can be accessed with a driver's license number, date of birth, audit/DD number, and the last four figures of one's social security number. (Anyone who does not know their audit number must complete another authentication which costs $1.75.) An individual must also pay a fee ranging from $4 to $20 to print their driver record or send it to an email address.

Alternatively, people who do not have access to a printer or an email address or who want to order someone else's record can request via mail. Mail orders require the completion and submission of a Driver Record Request Form, which can be downloaded from the DPS website. Together with the form, the requester must mail a check or money order addressed to the Texas Department of Public Safety (the form specifies the appropriate fee). Below is the agency's mailing address:

Texas Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 149008
Austin, TX 78714-9008

The DPS usually processes such orders within three weeks.

Texas traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record

Texas License Plate Lookup

Texas traffic records feature various information, including license plate data. This is because they can help identify the motorists and vehicles involved in accidents or other incidents. A license plate lookup can be conducted online or through a law enforcement agency.

When conducting a Texas license plate lookup, individuals must provide the license plate number and state of registration. Some websites may also require a small fee. The results of a license plate lookup can include the vehicle's make and model and the owner's name and address.

In Texas, license plate lookup can be conducted through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV offers an online search tool that allows users to enter a license plate number and receive results within minutes. There is no fee for this service.

An alternative for conducting a license plate lookup in Texas is through a private website. These websites typically charge a small fee, but they may offer additional information about the vehicle's history or insurance information.

How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Texas

To view any traffic case record for free in Texas, an individual must first determine the court with jurisdiction over the case. Subsequently, that party can visit the website of the court's clerk to search the case management database hosted on it. Usually, an individual can retrieve records from the database by entering a defendant's last and first name, citation number, or case number into the indicated fields. In some counties, the requester will need a username and password to access the system.

Rarely will a records database not be provided to the public. However, if this happens, the interested person will have to visit the court to inspect the case record at no charge.

How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Texas

Texas law does not indicate a time frame for traffic offenses to remain on a person's public driver or criminal record. As such, these offenses typically stay on an offender's record indefinitely.

The only exception pertains to criminal records, where an eligible offender whose traffic offense appears on their record applies for an expunction or nondisclosure, and the court grants their request. In such cases, the offense will either be cleared (if the court enters an expunction order) or hidden from public review (if the court permits nondisclosure).

How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Texas

In Texas, traffic records are public information. The implication is that residents and other members of the public have access to these records via government websites and even privately-run ones—for example, people search sites. In other words, anybody, from anywhere in the world, at any time they choose, can request to view or copy a public traffic record that originated from Texas.

For job seekers and other people who value their privacy, the availability of such records can adversely affect the quality of their lives. Hence, individuals often seek ways to take down these records. One popular method is to obtain an expunction or nondisclosure order from a Texas court. Subsequently, the expunction or nondisclosure order can be forwarded (either by oneself, the court clerk, or an attorney) to the applicable organizations, who will be legally mandated to cease the dissemination of such records. However, this method only applies to criminal traffic records, not driver records.

Besides obtaining an expunction or nondisclosure from the court, an individual can also apply directly to the public website that possesses the record. For example, many data broker sites offer a means for people to opt out of records displayed therein. However, since traffic records fall under the Texas Public Information Act, an individual may ask a site to delete their record, but it does not mean that the request will be honored. In the end, it may be better to obtain a judicial order that compels the site or agency to remove the traffic record.

Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Texas?

Yes, they can. Texas considers most motoring/traffic offenses as Class C misdemeanors. As a result, even though the state only penalizes a Class C misdemeanor offender with a fine or another non-jail penalty, the offense can affect a person's criminal record because it is still technically a crime. As usual, the existence of a criminal record can cause housing, employment, and immigration challenges, to mention a few, in an offender's life.