General information article on traffic tickets and other violations filed in the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts in Texas.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Won't DPS Renew My Driver's License?

If you have taken care of all your outstanding warrants and DPS will not renew your license, one possibility is that you have not paid your OMNI fees. When you receive a ticket and miss a court date, one or more of the following things may occur:

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 fe
es 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.

Sincerely

John Doe



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:

8 comments:

  1. Out of curiousity, after yuo pay an omni fee, how long does it take to clear Austin so that you can get your license renewed. And, will they allow you to then renew it online?

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  2. Once you pay the OMNI fee at the court, the clerk has five days to send the clearance notice to DPS. Typically they do it immediately or as soon as possible within the five days. Once DPS receives the clearance notice, the amount of time it takes to actually clear depends on their work stack. I've been told up to seven days. Keep in mind that DPS is continuously in the process of pulling people out of the OMNI system.
    My experience with people I have represented has usually been two to four days from the day it was paid. I do not recall it taking more than five days from the date they paid the fee.

    With regard to renewing online, I don't see where your previous placement in and removal from the OMNI system would in itself prevent you from renewing online if you were otherwise eligible to do so.

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  3. Thanks. I just called the hot line this afternoon and there is no longer a record listed (paid the court fine last Friday) but the DPS still hasnt cleared it. I assume they lag a bit behind the Omni system since you have 3 different parties involved with it all, the court, Omni and DPS.

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  4. Once in OMNI can i still fight it in court with jury?

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  5. Being placed in OMNI does not deprive you of your right to have your case heard by a jury. It only means that you missed a court date, and that you cannot renew your license while you are listed in OMNI. When you miss court, the only way to fight your case is to get it back on the court's docket. Additionally, you may have warrants. To get back on the docket, you may have to post a bond. If the court has filed an additional charge of Failure to Appear, you may have to post a bond for that charge as well. Usually, a bond for each charge will be required. Once the bond or bonds are posted, you get a new court date, just like the first time, only you may have the charge of Failure to Appear to deal with, in addition to the original charge or charges.

    Basically, there are three types of bonds in this situation. 1) Cash Bond-You put up your own cash with the court to secure your appearance. Once your cases are disposed of, you get this back less any court costs. 2) Bail Bondsman- you pay a bail bondsman a non-refundable fee to post your bond and get a new court date. 3) Attorney Bond-Some attorney's can post surety bonds for defendant's they will be representing in the matter.

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  6. I received 2 tickets in 2007. One for speeding & another for expired reg. I took care of the speeding ticket through the mail, but at the time was not aware officer had checked a little box citing me for expired reg. I have changed my name, renewed my license, have been pulled over since 2007 to current. However I went to renew my license this year & was told I had a hold for unpaid ticket. I have contacted the courts & have been told I need to pay $563 in order to remove hold from above charge. I have never received anything in the mail that has made me aware of this issue until I went to DMV this last time. Do I have any options to reduce this fine? Is it worth setting a court date or will it end up costing me just as much after its all said & done? The presiding county is 3 hrs away. I had asked them if I could just sit it out in jail but the clerk told me no. $563 is a lot of $ when living check to check. Paying it out was an option but my license is currently invalid until I take care of the matter.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. I recently posted bond for a few tickets, can i renew my license since im on bond?

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