Do You Have To Sign a Traffic Ticket?

In Texas the driver is required to sign a traffic ticket. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure states that a driver must sign a citation’s promise to appear line.

Can You be Arrested for Not Signing a Traffic Ticket?

In Texas you will be arrested if you refuse to sign a traffic citation. The Texas Transportation Code Chapter 543.005 requires a person cited to promise to appear. If they refuse to sign the citation the person will sit in jail until the court.

“To secure release, the person arrested must make a written promise to appear in court by signing the written notice prepared by the arresting officer.”

By signing the citation a person is only promising to appear. They are not admitting to an offense.

(Advice: It is best not to argue on the roadside. Save your disagreement of the ticket for the court room. It is best to let a traffic ticket attorney do it for you.)

Can You be Arrested for Speeding?

Generally speaking no you cannot be arrested for speeding unless you refuse to sign the citation.

However if a driver is speeding considerably over the speeding limit there is a possibility of being arrested for Reckless Driving, Texas Transportation Code 545.401.

Reckless Driving is defined as follows:

“if the person drives a vehicle in wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Texas also has a charge of Racing on Highway Texas Transportation Code Chapter 545.240:

(a) A person may not participate in any manner in:

(1) a race;

(2) a vehicle speed competition or contest;

(3) a drag race or acceleration contest;

(4) a test of physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle; or

(5) in connection with a drag race, an exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration or to make a vehicle speed record.

It is relevant to note that if a person is Racing on Highway and causes death or serious bodily injury the charge is a Second Degree Felony with up to 20 years in prison.

There are 2 other traffic violations other than speeding where an officer CANNOT arrest a person unless they refuse to sign the citation-

“(B) the use of a wireless communication device under Section 545.4251;

(This makes it a crime to read, write, or send a message while driving. It is ok to do it stopped or activating a function that plays music.)


(C) a violation of the open container law, Section 49.031, Penal Code;”

(This means an alcoholic beverage that is open or with a broken seal that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage.)


A person does not technically have to sign a traffic citation. But it will mean they will sit in jail. In Texas every citation is arrestable except for Speeding, Texting While Driving, and Open Container.

The easy and advisable solution to avoid arrest is to sign the ticket and argue about it later in court. Sure this will cost money and time. But the alternative will cost money, time AND being arrested and jailed.

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Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.