DRP Stories

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It seems like Texas has sold our debt, has sold the enforcement of the law that they’ve made to a private company, which doesn’t seem right to me. They have no particular reason to treat us fairly because all they want is money. So it puts you in the position of a debtor, it puts you in the position of essentially having to deal with a collections bureau because that’s all they are. They’re not interested in helping, they’re not interested in you being able to drive, they don’t care, frankly, whether you get notices or not because as long as they get their money, it doesn’t matter to them. And Texas is able to wash their hands clean of it because they’re not the ones who are having to deal with it.

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The main problem with this program is the withdrawal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which is the purpose of our role of government.

The main problem with this program is the withdrawal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which is the purpose of our role of government. It is the role of government is to ensure everyone has those liberties. A driver’s license is our liberty. We live in a culture where people don’t ride horses, they drive cars, and this whole state cannot get by without driver’s licenses. They should be taken from people who are irresponsible and dangerous and have used their licenses irresponsibly. The whole driver’s license system was created so there were rules of the road and people knew what the rules of the road were. It was never meant to be something that was taken away from you if you didn’t pay what was owed.

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If I hadn’t been able to get my occupational license, it would’ve forced me to go on welfare. I wouldn’t be able to support my family and I would’ve lost everything I have. So, it not only affects people’s ability to drive, but it also makes it where you can’t afford to live. If you can’t get anywhere, because really, the jobs that I could get to close-by would make less than what it would cost for me to live in my apartment—and I live in a cheap apartment. There’s no way to pay the cost of living here if you’re not able to drive.

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I am an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas and I have seen first hand how people’s lives have been affected by the DRP. Friends and clients have been buried for years under these fees and have been driving with suspended licenses and no insurance as a result of this fiasco. DRP does not enhance safety for Texans. There are certainly more unlicensed and uninsured drivers in Texas as a result of these excessive fees. Even DWI convictions are declining even with higher arrest numbers because attorneys, the DAs and the courts appear to agree that the DRP is oppressive and out of control.

Let’s restore some honesty to DWI cases and repeal the DRP.

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I had a friend who got a ticket for driving without proof of insurance. He had insurance, but didn’t have the proof with him. He forgot about the ticket and then realized he hadn’t taken care of it. He just paid the ticket instead of providing proof that he had insurance at the time of the ticket. Then he got hit with the DRP fees. He can PROVE that he had insurance at the time, but that doesn’t matter now.

Then the state offered an amnesty program to help people who couldn’t afford the fees. But he has a job, so he doesn’t qualify.

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Our son is a university student in another state. He pled no contest to a misdemeanor DWI while he had a Texas drivers license. He paid lawyer’s fees and a hefty fine for the DWI. Additionally, a first time offender must have an interlock device installed on the car to retain the right to drive. He paid over $800 for the interlock device, alcohol awareness classes, and a MADD victim impact panel. He also paid fees to perform eight days of community service picking up trash along the highways.

Six months later, after completing everything and trying to put it behind him, he received a letter from Texas DPS informing him that he would be required to pay $1000 a year for three years under the Driver Responsibility Program plus a $100 surcharge per year for three years for the out of state offense. He called DPS and told them that he no longer resided in Texas and had a drivers license in another state. He was told that it didn’t matter; either he complied and paid the fees or, under an agreement between states, he would lose his current drivers license as well.

This program concerns me on multiple levels.

Does Texas feel that other states’ laws do not sufficiently punish offenders or does our government feel like it is entitled to grab money from people at every opportunity?

People like my son have paid their debt to society; they didn’t “get away” with anything. I feel like this law serves no purpose but to kick people when they are down.

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My name is Arthur A. 

In December of 2004 I got my first and only DWI. I was celebrating a promotion in a local Katy, TX pub and I had too much to drink. I thank God that night I got caught. I was in no shape to drive and it could of been worse if someone had gotten killed. That’s something I would have had to live with for the rest of my life.

However, I didn’t think that 10 years later I would be living in intense stress and pressure, forced to drive without a license since 2004 and many years without insurance. Back in 2004, I simply couldn’t afford the $1,000 a year surcharge for 3 years AFTER I spent 5 days in jail and paid my court fees. I had to get to work, so I was forced to drive without a license. I got pulled over several more times with a suspended license, which resulted in even more surcharges, piling up on me like a long rap sheet.

There was an amnesty period, but no one told me about it, so I was not able to take advantage of that.

Every single day for 10 years I have lived in fear of being pulled over and going back to jail and getting even more surcharges and fees. But I HAVE TO WORK OR I CAN’T LIVE, so I continue to drive. I don’t know what else to do. I also can’t even buy a vehicle from a reputable dealer and must resort to buying cars from high interest car lots. Paying too much for cars is just another added financial hardship.

I’ve lost opportunities for better paying jobs because of my suspended license. I’ve been held back at work and even had to pay higher insurance rates. I’ve tried to set up a payment plan for the surcharges, but they want to charge all sorts of fees and compounded amounts. The amount per month I would have to pay to make this right is ridiculous. I don’t have anything close to that much money.

My life has been hell for the past 10 years. I just want to be free of it all so I can breath and not hold my breath and fear how much deeper in surcharge prison I might go. I’ve paid for my sins over and over, just for that one mistake. It feels like a 10 year sentence so far with no end in sight.

I have a family and kids. I’m just trying to get by. It’s time to set this right. Let us have our licenses to drive so we can function and provide for our families. Just think how much more money would be made if all 1.3 million of us who have lost our licenses had a license and paid our registration fees, etc.

The Driver Responsibility Program just needs to go. Thank you for reading my story, and I hope someone in the state capitol understands what a hardship this is.

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More stories and comments from Texans whose lives have been negatively impacted by the Driver Responsibility Program.

Carmen R. from La Porte, TX

I deal directly with traffic tickets and the people that owe the surcharges. It is very overwhelming for the people to catch up on DPS fees and they feel very upset about not being able to catch up with their fees.

Renato D.

At a tough time for Texas families, it is truly cruel to deprive them of a chance to earn a livelihood by stripping them of their driver’s license. This puts them at risk of further fines and criminalizes struggling families.

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We are currently collecting stories of Texans whose lives have been interrupted and made difficult by the complexity and severity of the Texas Driver Responsibility Surcharges. Currently more than a MILLION Texans have lost their drivers’ licenses because of the DRP. If you want to tell your story, click here.

Kimberly M from Houston:

I have been pounded with relentless surcharges which have led to a suspended license. I have 2 small children, so I don’t get to take them fun places like museums or even out to eat because I have lost my privilege to drive. I paid my tickets so I don’t see why I am still being penalized for old offenses. My children are suffering. My marriage is suffering. My quality of life has been dramatically lowered.

I am living week to week like a lot of Texans are and I just can’t afford $200 a month for the next 3 years. It literally would mean me having to make a choice between paying a light bill and paying MSB. I’ve applied for Indigency and incentive programs but because we aren’t on welfare and make a few hundred more than poverty levels, I don’t get to have reduced surcharges.

Why should my children have to miss out on fun memories because mommy can’t afford to pay unconstitutional fines???

Thank you!

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We are currently collecting stories of Texans whose lives have been interrupted and made difficult by the complexity and severity of the Texas Driver Responsibility Surcharges. Currently more than a MILLION Texans have lost their drivers’ licenses because of the DRP. If you want to tell your story, click here.

David C’s Story:

I received a ticket in Indiana and a ticket in Tennessee. Texas refused to renew my driver’s license until those were paid off. I had to get to work and would have to drive anyway. How else could I provide for my family? I received at least 2 tickets for driving with an invalid license or a similar such charge.

One day I had a business partner that decided enough was enough. So we sat down and contacted Indiana and Tennessee and paid off the tickets. Then paid off Texas at $100 apiece and showed proof. I renewed my license and took off to work out of state and was stopped and detained with my new license and given another ticket for driving while license invalid and told it would be dismissed when the others were taken off the computer.

A few months later I was arrested in Canton, TX. The DPS officer said, “Well, I can see here where you paid and renewed your license, but you knew it hadn’t cleared the computer and you’re driving anyway.” Now I had a Class B Misdemeanor!

I returned to TDCJ on a parole violation and while going through parole hearings I wrote Van Zandt County / Canton, TX. They dismissed the Class B charge. But when I got out of TDCJ there was a charge for an open container that I had been on a payment plan for. To renew my license I had to finish paying that ticket, and then give DPS another $100!

I think the judges charged me 3 different times. Why double jeopardy with DPS?