1) An additional charge of Violate Promise to Appear (VPTA) or Failure to Appear (FTA) is filed in addition to the violations you were initially charged with.
2) A warrant for each charge is issued for your arrest.
3) Most courts will enter your information into the Texas Department of Public Safety Failure to Appear Database (OMNI) which tells DPS not to renew your license because you missed court. For each charge entered into the OMNI system, DPS charges a fee of about $30.00. This fee is commonly known as the DPS or OMNI fee. The OMNI fee will be charged to you and is in addition to any fines and cort costs involved with your case.
The obvious reason for these measures is to get people to take care of their tickets. In the old days, some people didn't worry too much if they had traffic warrants, especially if they resided far away from the offended jurisdiction. As a result, some folks simply ignored their traffic tickets. To persuade people to take care of their tickets, laws were passed allowing the courts to notify DPS to put a hold on your license renewal if you had delinquent traffic tickets.
So, if you have taken care of all outstanding warrants and violations, you may still owe OMNI fees. Once the fees are paid, the court clerk sends a clearance notice to the DPS to let them know there is no need to continue to hold the renewal on your driver's license. It has been my experience that even though the court clerk sends the clearance notice immediately, it still may take several days, maybe 7 to 14, before your license is cleared for renewal. My guess is that the DPS is probably swamped with processing clearance notices as it is an ongoing task.Where do I pay the OMNI fees?
You may pay the OMNI fees at the court where the case was filed.When can I pay the OMNI fees?
By law, OMNI fees may be paid when a bond is posted, a judgement is entered on the case or upon dismissal of the case.I posted a bond but the clerk tells me that I cannot pay the OMNI fee until the case is disposed of. Is the clerk right?
No. This is incorrect. It may take months before the case is finally disposed of. The law was not meant to deprive people of their driver's license for months once they've taken steps to address their court issues. Once a bond is posted, the OMNI fee may be paid. I too have experienced this refusal of the clerk in certain courts to accept the fee when they should. I've discovered two reasons, although, there may be more, why the clerk refuses to accept the OMNI fee prior to the case being disposed of.
In some instances the court staff is simply unaware that they are supposed to accept payment of the fee once a bond is posted. Convincing them is difficult because they often take the "we've always done it this way" position and are convinced that they are correct, or they would have been instructed otherwise.
The second reason that clerks refuse to accept the fee prior to the final disposition of the case is because of their software. Their computer setup is such that accepting the fee prior to final disposition requires the clerk to manually input the information which presents a much more difficult technical task than it otherwise would upon final disposition of the case.
Here is what I would do. First do not argue with the clerk. Politely tell the clerk that it is your understanding that once the bond is posted, the fee can be paid. If the clerk still refuses to accept the fee, don't press the issue further with the clerk. Write a brief letter addressed to the presiding judge of the court. Do not discuss the merits of your pending case(s) in the letter as it is not proper for the judge to consider those issues outside the presence of the state's counsel. You may want to write something similar to the following:
Dear Judge ______
I missed my court date and have since posted bonds. (My court date is set for March 19, 20_./I am still waiting for a court date). I tried to pay my DPS fees in this court so I can renew my driver's license but the clerk refused to accept it saying that I had to wait until the final disposition of my case(s). My understanding of the law is that once I post a bond, I can pay the DPS fee to the court and the clerk will then send the clearance notice to DPS so that I can renew my license. Not being able to renew my license creates a hardship on me (my family, job, school, kids, etc.).
I would appreciate your assistance in this matter, and look forward to your response.
I would send this letter to the judge by fax and by certified mail. If it is not resolved, see an attorney.
Tip: Always be polite to all court personnel even if they are having a bad day. Most of them I've dealt with are professional. Yes there are some bad apples like everywhere else and some I really do not care for at all. But you'll get more flies with honey than with vinegar. You'd be surprised how much further you get by being courteous, even with those few bad apples. Hope this helps.
Tip: If you have traffic warants in Texas, the telephone number to the Texas Department of Public Safety Failure to Appear Database is 1-800-686-0570. If your case has been reported to the database, they will tell you which court the case was filed in. Keep in mind that it is possible that you have warrants but that your case has not been entered into the database.
Charles French was licensed to practice law in Texas in 1991. The majority of his practice includes the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts in Houston, Harris County and surrounding counties. You may visit his website by going to: