We're talking about a lot of money here - the surcharge on certain tickets can easily add up to more than the ticket itself. As state Sen. Elliot Shapleigh recently noted, "Theoretically, after three tickets, a driver can owe $3,000 and more, depending on the offense." The law has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of Texas drivers with traffic warrants, now exceeding 10% statewide.
Shippy got fed up with the "Driver Responsibility" surcharge, which the Lege created in 2003, "after an exhausting and financially debilitating journey." Thankfully she's reached the "end of the nightmare," she wrote, but called the program a "mind-boggling law that seemed too cruel to actually exist."
Shippy's critique of the surcharge goes beyond the voracious mulcting of drivers to criticize what the state spends the money on; perhaps grandiosely, but with some cause, she believes that:
the entire fate of Texas is connected to the role of the Surcharge Program. This is because the money from the unconstitutional program is earmarked for the Tran-Texas Corridor, which is a strategic segment of what is to become a super corridor that spans the entire North American Continent.Tamara's policy analysis adds an interesting twist to the already controversial "Driver Responsibility Program," which is essentially an annual, three year tax levied on people who have completed their court-ordered punishment for certain traffic violations. Her observation about the Trans-Texas Corridor opens new possibilities for those who oppose the Driver Responsibility Program to form temporary political alliances with those who oppose TTC's sprawl-driven road building strategies. I'd never thought of that angle before.
I am hoping to educate the public about this extremely unconstitutional law. The state is suspending people's license over not paying an excessive surcharge fee that is in addition to what you agree to in court. What's more, the money is going to pay for the Corridor projects, without consent or knowledge or the People ... I believe that spreading the word would enable individuals to better deal with the negative effects that the TX DRP has had on their lives, as well as have a say in our own future.
Please help me in getting the word out! Thank you very much for your time and effort!!
I signed Tamara's petition and I encourage those who oppose the surcharge (or the TTC) to do so, too. I hope she'll also notify signers what they can do to help convince their own state rep and senator, not to mention the Governor, to get rid of this tax by another name.
In 2009, Texas must rationalize the driver responsbility statute to give incentives for good behavior, not to encourage lawlessness due only to poverty or bureaucratic ineptitude. Used properly, this petition could be a good tool to build support for that goal. Good luck, Tamara!