Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bill would reduce surcharge amounts for insurance, DL compliance

A provision in HB 7 would reduce certain surcharges under Texas' Driver Responsibility Program. According to the Dallas News:
In the Driver Responsibility Program, Darby would reduce certain extra penalties.

Currently, a driver must pay steep fees — for three years — for not having auto insurance or driving without a valid driver’s license. Under his bill, they would be smaller fines, and they would end once a motorist showed he or she has coverage and valid license.
I'm unsure why the Dallas News says the surcharge would "end once a motorist showed he or she has coverage and a valid license." Looking at the text of the bill, it reduces surcharges if they get insurance or a license, but doesn't eliminate them. The legislation was announced at a press conference yesterday which can be viewed here.

As I read it, HB 7 would reduce the surcharge amount for failure to maintain liability insurance and for driving with an invalid license from $250 per year to $125 per year if the driver obtains insurance or gets a license renewal within 60 days. The surcharge for driving without a driver's license (as opposed to with an invalid one) would decline to $50 per year if the driver acquires a DL within 60 days.

This falls short of abolition but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. Thank you to Reps. Darby, Otto, Turner, et. al. for suggesting the idea.


Anonymous said...

Abolish or bust. I'm no lawyer but it seems it'll take a Federal Class Action Lawsuit to get it abolished if they keep going down that road. Ellis' bill is almost perfect except the old law still keeps millions in the program until paid up if I read that correctly. It helps everyone else going forward. SMH.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No doubt, I'd prefer Ellis' bill, too, and would like them to require another amnesty for those with backlogged surcharges.

But unless they find $230 million in the budget - and can keep from spending it on worthless, redundant border security - that bill may not pass. You can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good in the legislative process. This would be better than nothing, which is what we'd get if Ellis' bill fails to pass.

Anonymous said...

It doesn’t seem 230 million is much compared to the amount the state pays to keep subsidizing folk’s income by means of food stamps, assisted housing allowances, and so forth because they can’t find employment that is commensurate with their education and work experience. It certainly pales in comparison to a potential huge federal lawsuit on behalf of millions of Texans who've had their constitutional rights violated resulting in significant damages. I agree with you – border issue is foul. They can easily make up the 230 million on sin taxes, lowering the prison population by releasing non-violent offenders, and so on. Heck, add a gun tax since it seems everyone will be carrying one of those cowboys.

Anonymous said...

"Replace the $230 million" is a faulty argument. Before the passed the damn law there wasn't $230 million around anyway, so what the heck? Funding trauma centers my rear end, it is just a slush fund.

Nothing short of complete repeal will take care of the great injustices this well-intentioned but flawed law brings.

Prison Doc

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@Prison Doc, at a certain level I agree with you. But the money has to be made up in the budget somehow (not insurmountable: we have a big surplus at the moment). Math is math, the books have to balance, and revenue reduced must be accounted for. Eliminating trauma funding would be harmful if they don't replace the money.

Anonymous said...

The surcharges have failed to motivate all drivers to maintain liability insurance.

The surcharge works to motivate people that make good decisions and who also have the financial means to make those decisions based on plans for the distant future... or at least farther into the future than their next paycheck.

In other words, the surcharge is best at motivating people who are the least likely to need any extra motivation.

Some people always make bad decisions. They ARE criminals. It is their personality to be criminals and they are always going to do what they believe is in their own selfish interest RIGHT NOW.

The other people who make decisions for RIGHT NOW are too poor to plan. For them plans are only dreams... and dreams don't pay the rent.

Society try something different. Perhaps impounding uninsured vehicles would be more effective than surcharges. Perhaps replacing private automobile liability insurance with a socialized system paid for with a $3/gallon fuel tax.

Whatever the solution, we need to get creative.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It'd be a lot less than $3 per gallon, 9:09. FWIW, this blog has long advocated pay at the pump insurance.

Anonymous said...

How many people of different professions – lawyers, judges, public policy advocates and so forth have commented that the damn law is unconstitutional and needs to be revoked? I never want to hear another one of these elected officials say O’bama is a dictator when the fact is they are engaging in the same behavior. I mean, how many years has this drum been beaten? Yet they still find a way to dress that pig. I’m really starting to believe this ledge is NOT a government entity that is representative of the people but rather an entity that the people represent. This is an embarrassment beyond comprehension. When is the next public hearing scheduled to discuss this issue?

Anonymous said...

Surcharges is just another way for the system to rape you, my god give the people a break so they can afford to get legal..stop being so damn money hungry!!...yes the system SUCKS!!!!

Anonymous said...

Surcharges/failure to appear and reinstatement fees keep the poor people from being able to drive and make a living! It sounds the government wants Americans to fail! This bill is also keeping Texans who drive in danger. People who don't have a DL are going to continue to drive and without insurance!
I think the surcharge mess is a bigger mess than Obamacare! Not many legislators have the BALLS to eliminate this due to kissing the butts of the ER's who want that money!!!