The DRP has generated far less revenue than originally anticipated.[i] Whether due to confusion over being fined for a criminal offense already adjudicated by a court of law, or due to an inability to afford the surcharges, the majority of Texas drivers subjected to DRP surcharges never pay them. As of August 31, 2012, of the $2.85 billion in total surcharges assessed by DPS since the program’s inception, only $1.14 billion – less than 40% – had been collected.[ii]
This low collection rate has persisted despite the enactment of two programs that have sought to boost collections, specifically by reducing surcharges for drivers with suspended licenses due to overdue surcharges. Started in 2011, the Indigence program offers reduced surcharges to drivers earning less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline ($29,000 per year for a household of four in 2012). The Amnesty program was a one-time program in 2011 offering drivers with past-due surcharge debt the ability to reinstate their licenses in exchange for paying similarly reduced amounts.
As the following charts indicate, the two programs have had minimal impact on surcharge collection rates. The Amnesty program increased collections from 39.6% to 41.4%.[iii] The Indigence program increased the Department of Public Safety’s overall collection rate for DRP surcharges from 38.8% to 39.1% in FY 2012[AYC1] .[iv]
[i] According to the Fiscal Note for CSHB 3203 (78R), the Legislative Budget Board determined that the DRP would raise approximately $1.3 billion in all-funds revenues during its first five years. According to data from the Comptroller’s office, however, the program raised only $448 million between fiscal years 2004 and 2008. Fiscal note available online at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/78R/fiscalnotes/pdf/HB03203H.pdf#navpanes=0
[ii] Texas Department of Public Safety, email to State Rep. Sylvester Turner. Data available upon request.