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:
MORE: From the Texas Tribune.FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION PRESS RELEASESeptember 11, 2013 Media and Communications Office(512) 424-2080DPS Announces Driver Responsibility Incentive ProgramDiscounts based on total household incomeAUSTIN – 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: https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/(S(vusti0bnq3krksgylr3qpazx))/Indigence.aspx. (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 www.txsurchargeonline.com 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: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/drp.htm.