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Driver Responsibility Program Repealed?

The Texas Tribune reported this week that state lawmakers are considering eliminating the Driver Responsibility Program that was created in 2003 “to generate money and discourage unsafe driving.” The program tacks on a surcharge to drivers who get ticketed for various moving violations like driving while intoxicated, driving without insurance and driving without a license. Since inception, “DPS has been unable to collect more than $1 billion in fines they’ve issued” and have clogged Texas courtrooms with people who have failed to pay these fines. Rep. Lon Burman “argued that the surcharge program is unconstitutional because it puts drivers in double jeopardy, punishing them twice for the same offense.”

In hopes to collect on the $1 billion of unpaid fines, DPS has initiated an amnesty program for drivers “whose licenses have been suspended are eligible if they had a surcharge assessed between Sept. 30, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2008, and were delinquent on payments.” The amnesty program runs through April 17.

The Dallas Morning News also had a similar report which added that almost 60 percent of assessed surcharges have not been collected. It is estimated that the state receives $86 million a year in revenue from drivers who are paying the surcharges. And because the Texas Driver Responsibility Program is a large revenue source for the state, Rep. Berman has suggested a tax increase on cigarettes to make up for the lost revenue.