Texas Driver Responsibility Program News: Critics of DRP Struggling
The following is a digest of a story originally appearing at the Dallas Morning News. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition is posting this summary as a pubic service for Texans interested in eliminating or reforming the current Driver Responsibility Program in our state.
Legislators, lawmakers, judges, and numerous citizens victimized by the current Texas Driver Responsibility Program agree that it is a train wreck, an “unworkable mess.” But eliminating the program in 2015 seems unlikely. The bottom line is, the program brings in money, regardless of the damaging fallout to Texans, and legislators will be reluctant to lose that source of revenue.
It doesn’t help that the revenue goes to a good cause – supporting hospital trauma centers.
We’re the government and we’re living off these monies. And whether it’s the best way to collect the money is the question,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. “We’re not going to give up the money.”
The DRP, enacted in 2003, adds civil penalties to criminal convictions for various driving offenses. The fees are collected annually for three years after the conviction. It sounded like a good idea, but drivers unable to pay have lost their license to drive, often with devastating personal consequences. Many of these people were not convicted of DUI and bear no moral responsibility to personally support trauma hospitals. The high fees, on top of the fines they paid for their traffic violations are more than many people can afford. Unable to pay, their license gets suspended. Forced to drive anyway to keep jobs, support families, etc., they are at risk for further costly fines and even arrests.
The bottom line: The fallout from this revenue source is unjust, and the downside far outweighs whatever good comes of it.
Read the original story here.