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Fix Found? New Rules To Deal With Driver Responsibility Program’s $2 Billion Unpaid Surcharges and 2+ Yr DWI Case Backlog

The Texas Public Safety Commission adopted changes to the Driver Responsibility Program rules this week, and these will become effective next month.  We’ve written about these surcharges before.   

Attempt to Resolve the Huge Backlog of DWI Cases Across the State of Texas

It seems that criminal judges across the state were the incentive for these new rules, because they were reporting to the TPSC that the notorious two (2) year backlog of DWI cases across the state was due in large part to the DWI Surcharges since those accused of driving drunk and charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated) were opting to take their chances at trial and not take a deal.

Before these changes, Texas drivers convicted of DWI (driving while intoxicated) as well as a couple of other violations (driving without a driver’s license, or one that’s invalid; as well as driving without insurance) had to pay automatic surcharges every year, for three years from the date of conviction.  The surcharge was high: $1,000 a year for three years for a first conviction; $1,500 a year for the second; and $2,000 a year for any conviction with a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 or greater. 

People just weren’t paying these surcharges.  Over $1 billion hasn’t been paid state-wide, because some folk can’t afford these surcharges and others just rebel against them: they’re driving without a license rather than forking over these bucks.

The Changes They’ve Made in Response to $1 Billion Surcharge Receivables and 2+year DWI case backlog

So, here are the changes that are being made under the new rules according to this week’s TPSC press release:

The Amnesty program

• Will apply to individuals who have been in default, and the Department will determine the time in default for each amnesty period
• Will reduce amount to 10 percent of total surcharges owed, not to exceed $250
• Will rescind suspension for those who receive amnesty while payments are being made

The Indigency program:

• Will apply to individuals at or below 125 percent of poverty level, using a sworn affidavit
• Will reduce amount to 10 percent of total surcharges owed, not to exceed $250
• Will rescind suspension for those who receive indigency while payments are being made

The Incentive program will apply to individuals above 125 percent and below 300 percent of poverty level, using a sworn affidavit.

Individuals will pay a reduced amount if all three years are paid in full:

• Pay 50 percent of what’s owed if paid within 30 days after notice
• Pay 60 percent if paid within 60 days after notice
• Pay 70 percent if paid within 90 days after notice

OR

• Reduced payments for continued compliance
• First year, pay 100 percent
• Second year, reduced by 50 percent
•  Third year, reduced by 75 percent

The programs will be phased in over several months, with the Amnesty program being implemented during tax season. The Indigency program will be implemented immediately after the Amnesty period ends. The Incentive program will be evaluated for implementation.


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