Thursday, September 12, 2013

DPS announces 'incentive program' rollout on driver surcharges

Find below the jump a press release the Texas Department of Public Safety issued yesterday announcing its belated "incentive" program, which should have come online last month. It should be said, they significantly scaled back the incentive program from the version on the books when the Lege required them to implement it. It still has the same name, but the previous version wasn't pegged to income levels, allowing anybody to pay off their surcharges at a discount if they paid up front instead of over three years. Still, this version remains better than a sharp stick in the eye, as my Dad likes to say.

Relatedly, under an open records request, this week I received a list of recommendations from DPS to the Lege (pdf) regarding the Driver Responsibility surcharge. Grits will blog on the recommendations soon, after I've had a chance to parse them in detail, but thought I'd put the link out there. In the meantime, here's the DPS press release on the incentive program, effective immediately:

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION                                   PRESS RELEASE
September 11, 2013                                       Media and Communications Office
                                                                                                         (512) 424-2080

DPS Announces Driver Responsibility Incentive Program
Discounts based on total household income

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is now offering eligible drivers with unpaid Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) surcharges significant reductions in fees owed as part of a new Incentive Program. In addition, drivers can now apply for the already existing Indigency Program and the new Incentive Program through one application process, which ensures that customers who are denied indigency status will automatically be considered for the Incentive Program if they are eligible.  Both programs were created by the Texas Legislature.

The Incentive Program applies to individuals whose total household income is above 125 percent but below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, as defined annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The surcharge fees are reduced by 50 percent of the total amount assessed, plus service fees. It also removes all surcharge license suspensions for six months from the date of approval but not other suspensions on the driving record.

The Indigency Program, which began in 2011, applies to individuals whose total household income is at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level, as defined annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Surcharges are reduced to a maximum of $250 or 10 percent of the total amount assessed (whichever is less), plus service fees.  It also removes all surcharge license suspensions for six months from the time of approval but not other suspensions on the driving record.

Information on federal poverty levels related to both programs are outlined at: (See bottom of the page.)

Under these programs, the new reduced balance must be paid in full within six months to prevent a new suspension of driving privileges. Each partial payment made during the six month period requires a $2.50 service fee. If the balance is not paid in full by the due date, driving privileges will be suspended until the amount owed is paid.

The DRP program was enacted in 2003 by the Texas Legislature, which directed the DPS to assess and collect automatic three-year surcharges for the following moving violation convictions:
  • Intoxicated driving offenses;
  • Driving without insurance;
  • Driving while license invalid or without a license;
  • Reaching a point accumulation threshold for several moving violations.
Surcharges are in addition to whatever fines were originally assessed for the qualifying violations – and these programs do not apply to any other fees that a driver may owe DPS. Revenue generated by DRP is allocated to trauma centers, emergency medical centers and the state’s general revenue fund.

For additional information, including the application and instructions on how to apply for these programs, visit or call 1-866-223-3583 (select option 6). Applicants should continue making monthly installment payments while waiting for approval or they risk suspension of driving privileges.

Information related to the DRP program can also be found at:
MORE: From the Texas Tribune.


Lee said...

Does anyone still believe that the trauma centers will see any of this money?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

They receive some - recently around half, or perhaps a little less, than they in theory were "supposed" to get.

john said...

Swell they worry so, how to get buckets of fees & fines and divide them up.
But why are the vaguely-worded "moving violations" in the Admin Code used on all us non-gov employees, when the Transpo Code SAYS registration is only for State/Muni-owned vehicles, therefore demanding license, inspection, etc.??? And look how red-light cameras were used for years, authorized by no law, merely the will of those in power.
It's NOT okay to impede citizens' rights to travel (though maybe they should impeded illegals right to travel, here).
It's not okay to leave public roads crummy to force us onto toll roads.
It's not okay cops beat & taze & shoot, lying THEY were in danger.
It's not okay cops are not even trained in the law--all the better to go along with crap like red-light cameras and insurance-paying moving violations.
It's NOT okay the courts collude against the people.
Like prisons, too many people are getting too rich off the APPARENT lawful ruminations of a rich State.
How can Exec. or Judi. Branchers implement "law" outside the scope & intent & spirit of that written by the Legislature--you know, the way the PUC allowed greedy electric co's to bury us in Smart Meters?
The communitarian plan is that growing the gov means more folks will obey the status quo in order to keep their cushy jobs.