Driving Safety Course as a Condition of Deferred Disposition Effective June 1, 2023

In 2021, the 87th Regular Legislature passed House Bill 1560 (H.B. 1560), which made numerous changes regarding the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), alcohol and drug programs, as well as driving safety courses.

In yesterday’s blog entry, we discussed what alcohol and drug education will look like in a post-DADAP world. Today, let’s examine the changes to the Deferred Disposition statute (Art. 45.051, C.C.P.) that courts should be mindful of as they go into effect on June 1, 2023. These statutory amendments have been a point of confusion—most likely because of the repeated usage of the phrase “younger than 25 years of age.”

Section 5.58 of H.B. 1560 is included below in its entirety, which shows all the changed language of Article 45.051(b-1)—part of the Deferred Disposition statute.

Key takeaways from the changes:

Judges must continue to order a Driving Safety Course (DSC) for defendants under 25 if offering deferred disposition for a traffic offense classified as a moving violation. This requirement is found in (b-1)(2), and it is unchanged.

The driving safety course designed for drivers under 25 (commonly called Alive at 25) has never been a requirement, and as of June 1, 2023, it will be repealed from the deferred disposition statute. Alive at 25 is a four-hour in-person course judges may consider as an additional deferred disposition requirement. This course was added to the deferred disposition statutes on January 1, 2012. Reading the statute has often led to confusion because judges are required to order a DSC as part of deferred for drivers under 25 but may also consider ordering a second additional course: often a program called Alive at 25. It is easy to conflate the required DSC for under 25 with the optional “additional driving safety course designed for drivers younger than 25 years of age.” Thankfully, this statute will be a bit clearer on June 1, 2023.

It is worth noting that Alive at 25 is a specific curriculum and a part of the National Safety Council’s Driver Safety Training. The Alive at 25 curriculum will still exist after June 1, and a judge could still require Alive at 25 as part of deferred disposition under Art. 45.051(b)(10), which permits the judge to order a defendant to comply with “any other reasonable condition.” The difference being that this would no longer be an “additional driving safety course” under the deferred disposition statute or under Chapter 1001 of the Education Code regulating Driving Safety Courses.

Published by markgoodner

General Counsel & Director of Education, TMCEC

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