Facing more than $1.1 billion in uncollected fines from errant Texas motorists who are driving illegally without licenses, state officials are poised to approve an amnesty program to try to get some of them legal again.State Sen. Tommy Williams was quoted saying the "easiest way to stay out of [the program] is to obey the law," but I wonder about the context of the quote since, back in 2007, Williams himself voted in committee for Sen. Steve Ogden's legislation authorizing DPS' new rules. It would be somewhat of a flip flop if he now opposes the rulemaking he earlier voted to allow. I wasn't at the hearing so it's hard to know what if anything to read into such a statement.
Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security on Wednesday that two changes expected to be approved soon will allow scofflaws to pay off their fines at big discounts.
Drivers who pay during an amnesty period starting in December could get off by paying 10 percent of their fine, up to $250, and drivers who can prove they are legally indigent can get a similar deal starting in April, officials said.
"There are $1.1 billion in surcharges that, at present, have not been paid," McCraw said. "If everyone paid under this plan, about $17 million would be collected."
At issue are more than 1.2 million Texas drivers in the Driver Responsibility Program, which the Legislature approved in 2004 as a way to toughen up enforcement of traffic laws and to curb drunken driving.
In any event, it's good to hear things are on track to approve the rules at the Public Safety Commission's meeting next week. It's been a long road since Grits first petitioned for rulemaking on this subject last summer.
See related Grits posts:
- DPS Director: No public safety benefit from Driver Responsibility Surcharge
- Amnesty, Indigency rules for Driver Responsibility Program finally published
- Prosecutors altering charging decisions to avoid Driver Responsibility surcharge
- Driver surcharge boosting Texas joblessness
- Driver Responsibility surcharge 'devastating' for court system
- Bill author says 'overly punitive' Driver Responsibility surcharge a 'mistake'
- Grits comments submitted on Driver Responsibility rules