Monday, August 27, 2007

Sign petition opposing Texas' Driver Responsibility surcharge

Nobody else has stepped up to the plate to confront the large fines causing thousands of Texans to lose their drivers licenses, so I couldn't be more pleased to discover that Tamara Shippy, a 22-year old pre-law student, has launched an online petition to build opposition to Texas' mislabeled "Driver Responsibility" program, which is a major contributor to local jail overcrowding.

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.

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!!

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 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!


NZalud said...

Houston Chronicle Article

NZalud said...

TX DPS Info on DRP

Who receives money from the surcharges?

Each surcharge collected by the department under this law will be remitted to the Comptroller, on a monthly basis. Trauma centers and county and regional emergency medical services will receive 49.5 percent of the collected money, and the Texas Mobility fund will receive 49.5 percent of the collected money. The money that goes to trauma centers will be handled by the Texas Department of Health, while the **Texas Department of Transportation **will handle money going to the **Mobility fund**, which funds highway projects, including the **Trans-Texas Corridor**. The remaining one percent of the collected money will go to DPS for operation of the Driver Responsibility program.

The Driver Responsibility Program was passed into law as part of House bill 3588, article 10. (The text of the law is located at, page 152 of the Adobe text version.)

NAFTA Ports Map

NASCO Corridor links

NASCO Projects

Trans TX Corridor Interactive Map

NASCO links

NASCO US members

North American Inland Ports

Anonymous said...

Would you like to join the crusade to fight the Driver Responsibility Program? Go to; and join. Spread the word, we will modify the TX Responsibility Program!

Anonymous said...

How many signatures need to be on the petition to make a difference?

Richard said...

This seems to be a pretty clear case. Is there any law suits pending?

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get legal eyes focused on this illegal surcharge law in the state of Texas. I am in the process of starting a website so we can centralize citizens efforts against the state and hopefully bring about a civil lawsuit. Just starting it tonight but the site can be found at: or

The citizens of Texas do not need to continue to sit by and allow corrupt politicians to violate their rights.


Anonymous said...

This unconstitutional law must be repealed. I refuse to pay for a ticket twice and be blackmailed too.There are cases in which the Supreme Court has ruled you don't have to have a drivers license. If you're in interstate commerce you have to have a license but restricting your ability to travel is against the constitution.Scam artists now comes in the disguise of a state.

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Anonymous said...

Every driver that has been wronged by this statute can participate in our case before the high court. Write a good letter stating how this law has affected you and why you think its an unlawful tax, etc. On top put #WR-76,215-01, In The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas. On the bottom make a note that you swear under oath and sign before a notary. Mail the original and 11 copies to Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, PO Box 12308, Austin Texas 78711, now. The nine judges are considering the motion now, so get to writing and into the mail first thing.

If you have any questions to call me at my new cell 214-536-8797. Daniel.