Texas Driver Responsibility Program Might be on its Way Out
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program is ten years old this year. The program was created in 2003 to place stricter fines on drunk drivers and the uninsured. It seemed like a great idea at first; the proceeds were supposed to fund hospital trauma centers and highway projects. But Texas highways received little to no funding, and hospital trauma centers received far less than what was predicted. This is because the 1.2-1.3 million Texans who owe surcharges either can’t pay or won’t. 1.7 billion in surcharges is still owed to the state. So late last year, Texas legislators decided in favor of the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.
Under the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, DPS can slap drivers with annual surcharges on driving transgressions, from minor moving violations to alcohol-related offenses. High-level offenses receive automatic surcharges and smaller violations are assessed through a point system. Each time a surcharge is added to a driver’s record, the driver is notified by mail. If a driver doesn’t pay fines within 105 days, his or her license can be revoked. The man who co-authored the bill creating the program is Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. The Driver Responsibility Program was passed into law as part of House bill 3588, article 10. However, the program failed to meet its goals, and in a 2010 report by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, it was deemed more of a failure than merely a slow-to-make-progress initiative. This led to the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.
How will the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program affect you?
In a strange twist of events, Rep. Turner has now joined with Rep. Lon Burnam, D- Fort Worth, and Rep. Larry Gonzales, R- Round Rock to enact the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program entirely. Turner says of the bill, “It was a good idea that had a very bad outcome.” Williamson County Justice of the Peace Edna Staudt also wants Texas to get rid of the program, because it denies citizens due process under the law and creates problems for the courts. “Our courtrooms are flooded, and our jails are becoming more filled with people who literally just don’t have the money to pay surcharges,” says Staudt.
But even though the amount of money received by trauma centers isn’t exactly what was hoped for, it’s still enough to have helped. John Hawkins, senior V. P. for advocacy and public policy for the Texas Hospital Association, says, “We are gravely concerned about this legislation. This program has been majorly successful and helped us grow [trauma center] capacity across the state.” Leo Berman, R- Tyler, who filed a bill back in 2011 similar to the one presently filed to repeal the program, found that doing so would cost Texas about 86 million in revenue a year per the comptroller’s research as of 2011. Berman considered replacing that revenue with a tax increase on cigarettes; Hawkins thought perhaps this revenue could come from Medicaid expansion.
San Antonio Traffic Ticket Lawyers can help you with the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program
The issue of the End of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program,has been left pending by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. For the meantime, the new class of criminals created by the program, those who continue to drive with suspended licenses, better look out…. More offenses mean more points on a driver’s record, and those insurance prices will keep inching their way toward the sky.