Above and beyond any criminal penalties and court ﬁnes, the DRP requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to assess annual, administrative surcharges on the drivers’ licenses of persons convicted of certain traﬃc oﬀenses. Surcharges are levied every year for three years. If a driver fails to pay assessed surcharges, the program requires DPS to automatically suspend the person’s driver’s license until the debt is paid.
The DPS levies surcharges in two ways:
- a point system based on the commission of moving (e.g., traﬃ c) violations, and
- a conviction-based surcharge for the commission of certain higher-level traﬃc oﬀenses.
Under the point system, drivers convicted of Class C Misdemeanor moving violations accrue two points for each conviction and three points for moving violations resulting in vehicle accidents. No points are accrued for speeding violations less than 10% over the speed limit. If a driver accrues six or more points during a three-year period, a surcharge is assessed on that person’s driver’s license. An annual surcharge of $100 is levied for the ﬁrst six points accrued on a person’s driving record, and $25 for each additional point.
Under the conviction-based system, DPS levies automatic surcharges upon conviction of the following traﬃc oﬀenses:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Driving While License Invalid (DWLI)
- No License
- Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (FMFR) (or “No Insurance”)
For DWI convictions, the DPS levies an annual surcharge of $1,000 for a first oﬀense, $1,500 for a second oﬀense, and $2,000 if the driver’s blood alcohol content is 0.16 or more at the time of arrest. For DWLI or FMFR convictions, the annual surcharge is $250. The surcharge for No License is $100.
Because surcharges are cumulative, a driver could pay surcharges for points as well as for speciﬁc convictions at the same time – substantially increasing surcharges owed. Conviction-based surcharges are also cumulative. For example, a person convicted of a ﬁrst DWI in 2011 and a second DWI in 2012 would be charged $1,000 per year for three years for the ﬁrst oﬀense and $1,500 per year for three years for the second oﬀense, for a total of $7,500 in surcharges over a four-year period.
DPS notiﬁes individuals of assessed surcharges and the penalty for non-payment of the surcharges. If an individual has not paid the surcharge (or agreed to an installment plan) within 105 days of assessment, his or her driver’s license is automatically suspended.