On June 14, 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a house bill 2048 that ended the Texas’ Driver Responsibility Program. As a result, this program will end on September 1, 2019. This is significant news for thousands of Texans.
The Texas’ Driver Responsibility Program applied surcharges to Texans that were convicted of certain offenses or had a cumulation of “points” on certain moving violations within three years. These offenses included DWIs, driving without a license, expired license, driving without insurance and/or other moving violations. These surcharges were added on top of other court fees/fines and ranged from $250 to $2,000 every year depending on the driver’s points or convictions.
The purpose of this program was to be a revenue source for emergency trauma centers in Texas. Since the elimination of the Texas’ Driver Responsibility Program, house bill 2048 will raise all traffic fines by $20.00 and increase insurance by $2.00. Furthermore, people facing a DWI conviction could be subjected to an additional fine of up to $6,000.00 under certain circumstances.
The issue that I have seen has an attorney while representing court appointed defendants was that people would get so behind in these surcharges that they were not able to pay them. As a result, these defendants were not able to get their license renewed. To illustrate how big of an issue this was, when a defendant was charged with driving without a license, some prosecutors would agree to dismiss the case if the defendant would renew his or her license. But the problem was that the defendant would not be able to pay the surcharges. Thus, the defendant was stuck with a misdemeanor and not being able to renew their license. Also, this conviction would lead to another conviction that counted towards having additional surcharges. It became a vicious cycle for people that effected Texans jobs, record, and overall life.
Now with the Texas’ Driver Responsibility Program ending on September 1, 2019, this brings hope to thousands of Texas drivers to be able to get their licenses reinstated. Thus, on September 1, 2019, any remaining surcharges owed will be eliminated. Yet as a final note, some drivers will still have to pay reinstatement fees to have their licenses reinstated.