Texas Driver Responsibility Program
You may have received a notice of a “surcharge” to renew your driver’s license from DPS, but not know what a surcharge is or why a surcharge was assessed against you. A DPS “surcharge” is a governmentally imposed fee created by DPS and assessed against a motorist for convictions recorded on their driving record. Texas DPS surcharges are imposed in addition to the actual cost of paying the traffic ticket for which you cited with a “surcharge” offense, in addition to reinstatement fees, and in addition to all other administrative fees DPS may impose against you to get your license renewed. The law permitting Texas DPS surcharges arises from the Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 708. This law took effect for traffic tickets or traffic offenses arising after September 1, 2003.
Be aware there are two types of driver’s license surcharges in Texas: a Conviction Based Surcharge and a Point System based surcharge.
This blog entry deals with “Conviction Based Surcharges.” Certain traffic ticket offenses carry an automatic surcharge if the driver is convicted. Such convictions carry an annual surcharge that must be paid for a period of three (3) years from the date of conviction. Because these offenses cause an automatic surcharge to be assessed against the driver, no points are assessed against the driver’s license under the Point System. Offenses carrying automatic surcharges for conviction are as follows:
1st Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Offense $1,000 yr for 3 years
Subsequent DWI $1,500 yr for 3 years
DWI with blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more $2,000 yr for 3 years
No Insurance $ 250 yr for 3 years
Driving While License Invalid $ 250 yr for 3 years
No Driver License $ 100 yr for 3 years
Don’t think the State of Texas is finished creatively gouging you if convicted of one of these purely administratively created penalties. The state also employs a vendor to collect these surcharges for it, and naturally allows that vendor to tack on a service fee of 4% of the original surcharge amount. If you need time to pay, $2.50 will be added to each payment installment. And of course, the state won’t take your cash (what is supposed to be legal tender), so unless you live in Austin the cost of gas probably keeps it from being economical to drive your payment to DPS or wherever the vendor is based. You’ll want to pay with a credit card or check, right? Paying your surcharge with a credit card will cost you an additional 2.25% of the entire payment (don’t forget to include your vendor fee and installment fee), plus – get this – 25 cents. Paying by electronic check is an additional $2.00.
So, if you are stopped and receive a traffic ticket for failing to show proof of insurance, your $250 annual surcharge fee could cost you upwards of $805.50 before it’s all over!!!
NEXT….Point System based surcharges and how DPS notifies you (or doesn’t) that a surcharge has been assessed against you.
If you need help with a traffic ticket or resolving a failure to show financial responsibility ticket or insurance ticket, give the traffic ticket lawyers at The Coquat Law Firm a call NOW at 210-745-0144. We provide traffic ticket defense for all kinds of traffic tickets, minor in possession (MIP) and public intoxication offenses.