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Amnesty for the Driver Responsibility surcharges

Scott Henson has a nice op-ed in the DMN about implementing a real amnesty program for those who cannot afford to pay Driver Responsibility surcharges and can’t get their licenses back until they do.

In 2007, the Legislature gave the Department of Public Safety’s governing body, the Public Safety Commission, a mandate and broad authority to fix the program. Last year lawmakers required the agency to establish an indigency program. The safety commission recently published rules in the Texas Register to create just that and will hold a public hearing regarding them at the Capitol on Monday.

But the proposed changes don’t go nearly far enough, and the safety commission has authority to more substantially revamp the program to mitigate its most significant problems. It should do so.

The most gaping omission: The Department of Public Safety failed to propose an “amnesty” program to relieve the backlog of 1.2 million drivers who’ve already defaulted on the surcharge. This not only is bad public policy, encouraging 1.2 million drivers to remain unlicensed and uninsured, it actually leaves money on the table for the state. Potentially a lot of it.

If just one-third of them participated in a one-time amnesty program that let them get their license reinstated for, say, $250 (many owe thousands in back surcharges), it could generate up to $100 million in the near term.

That sure would be nice to have at a time like this, wouldn’t it? Go read the whole thing.

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2 Comments

  1. robert a. may says:

    this would be a blessing to me. I have been locked up in TDCJ for 2 years and just got out and can’t get my license because of surcharges.

  2. nelly says:

    I WOULD LOVE THE CHANCE TO PAY THAT AMOUNT AND START NEW THIS HAS STOPPED ME FROM GETTING A BETTER CAREER AND KEEPS ME IN DEBT AND NEVER CAN COME OUT OF IT. I KNOW THAT THE STATE IS ABOUT MONEY MONEY MONEY BUT THATS PART OF WHY WE HAVE EACH OTHER AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE A SAY SO….