Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writ challenges constitutionality of Driver Responsibility surcharge at TX CCA

This is the first of two items this morning on the Driver Responsibility surcharge, which for convenience sake I'll split up into separate posts. Let's start thought with commenter Daniel Montes, who has been diligently tacking this notice onto old Grits posts about the Driver Responsibility surcharge, so I thought I'd share it with everybody:
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas has accepted the case and will consider my motion to declare Ch 708 of TX Trans Code "Surcharge Program" unconstitutional. Writ No. WR-76,215-01. I ask all interested licensed Texas attorneys, law professors, civil rights groups, etc to file their friend of the court briefs in support of relators motion to declare ch 708 of the Texas Transportation Code unconstitutional. We got the Texas high court's attention now. Help me shut this Ch. 708 down, make the state refund every dollar with interest and reinstate all DLs suspended under ch 708. We don't need congress to repeal and wait for any federal court to intervene. This [is a] motion before a Texas high court to review a Texas statute. It's perfect.
Any questions?
Daniel Montes
Here's a link to the CCA page on his case, though no documents are posted online yet. I don't know Mr. Montes, but he apparently brought this action pro se and deserves a lot of credit for making it this far. (He gave his contact information in the original comment(s), if you like, though I won't republish it.) This is separate litigation, of course, from the federal suit out of Fort Worth, discussed on Grits previously, which also seeks to declare the Driver Responsibility surcharge unconstitutional.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would be about the last place I'd look to get rid of this wretched civil surcharge, but you never know. The Driver Responsibility surcharge, I've found, is disliked across the political spectrum for a variety of different reasons, including among many self-styled conservative, law-and-order types who've watched in horror as it has helped drive DWI conviction rights steadily downward since its inception. (Judges have testified at legislative hearings that charges are routinely being reduced in some jurisdictions to avoid applying many thousands in additional surcharge costs.)

I'm not a lawyer, but this is certainly an opportunity for any groups, firms, or individual attorneys with sufficient resources and motivation to file amici briefs on behalf of a motion pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that could, conceivably, get rid of this abject and contemptible program once and for all. Maybe it's futile, some will say, with the likes of Judges Keller and Hervey on the bench. But as my late grandmother was fond of reminding me, "Can't never could."

I know everybody's busy, but this surcharge is a true source of dysfunction in the justice system, affecting literally millions of people. Opportunities arise in this world, then windows close, and pro se or not, this is an opportunity for Texas' high criminal court to solve a big problem for state criminal courts, if five of them can muster the gumption and if critics of the surcharge can muster the arguments to let them do so. Mr. Montes got his writ this far. Give him some help, if you can, with amici briefs explaining to the court why the Driver Responsibility Surcharge is unconstitutional. (And if you do, be sure to forward copies of whatever you file with the court to Grits, at shenson[at]


Anonymous said...

The CCA has not granted anything. The filing is meaningless and will shortly be rejected. Waste of time.

Anonymous said...

And the simple answer is to not break the law in the first place. I have absolutely no sympathy for any of the scofflaws affected by this. They chose to break the law, and deserve everything they are getting. The surcharge ought to be raised, not done away with.

Daniel Montes said...

The State does not dispute that the surcharge program is a revenue generating statute.  In Ex parte Drake, the 3rd Court of Appeals declared the surcharges not a fine or penalty, but a tax.  The surcharge program is facially unconstitutional, because congress is prohibited from delegating its taxing authority to the DPS or MSB.  The program has nothing to do with scofflaws.  Its an unlawful tax.  The author of the bill admitted that the program was a mistake. Yes, the Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to request briefs.  This court has in the past has declared other criminal stautes unconstitutional, a few not many.  I hope the court reviews the challenge.  I have four distinct novel legal theories of its unconstitutionality never presented to the Texas high court.   My name is Daniel Montes.

Anonymous said...

It discriminates against texas residents as out of state residents dont have to pay

Anonymous said...

Violates equal protection and is discriminatory. Will add this as point #5. What other legal reasons that the statute is unconstitutional. Keep them coming. Daniel Montes.

Russell said...

Any direction you look at the program from, it is wrong! Call it a tax, a fee, whatever. I call it a second punishment for the same crime. A "money grab" plain and simple. The program, for years now, has been proven to be a collosal disaster that has bled an untold number of people into bankruptcy. And now the amnesty, indigency and incentive programs do not address a huge percentage of the people that have been hit with this failed program. For instance, if you don't want to pay at all, it's ok, we'll let you off. But if you actually do play by the rules and pay into it, you can go ahead and keep paying without even an attaboy. And, if it drives you into bankruptcy, well that's ok too because we as a state government don't care. I fully support stopping this program once and for all, and reimbursement of every penny paid into it plus interest. To our legislators: If it bankrupts the state coffers paying back what was illegally drained from so many people, oh well, that's the price you pay for screwing the people that you are supposed to represent.

TS said...

The DPS does assess the surcharge to out of state licensees. Probably to avoid an equal protection challenge. Several years ago there was a successful challenge to the analogous statute in Virginia, I believe, on equal protection grounds.

Pygmailion said...

I had over fourteen thousand dollars in surcharges removed with the amnesty. That accumulated from one no insurance ticket. when i could not pay my drivers license was suspended and I was stopped and ticked by the police over 20 time building the 14 thousand dollar debt. Now all those surcharges are removed, Three thousand dollars of more resent surcharges are due! I paid over 500 dollars to the court to get an occupational license. I will never pay these "money grab" tax charges. I no longer believe i am free and no longer care for America! or the police state we live in today. I've lost hope in all humanity . Were a sick self-destructive waste of space. Anything for profit! I myself have learned a great lesson. I take pride knowing i work for a company that Destroys life everyday and is slowly killing the human race!

Anonymous said...

Great job!! Keep up the good work and effort Daniel Montes. This failed program must be dealt with. It does not just affect "scofflaws" totally legit drivers are affected. Funding is not being provided as planned to trauma care centers because people are not paying these surcharges (apporx. 1.8 billion billed & 600 million paid)This has been going on since the inception of this bill in 2003. Does that affect you? The est. 1.2 million without a drivers license are also uninsured drivers who are driving on the same roads as totally legit drivers. What do you think happens in a collision with one of these drivers? The extra you pay for uninsured motorist protection on your insurance policy...does that affect you? These are only 2 examples of the many I have of how this flawed law affects all drivers in Texas, not just the violators. Do some research Transportation Code 708 is a mistake and it is time for Texas to do something about it!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Daniel, fwiw, Ex Parte Drake didn't exactly conclude that the surcharge is a tax. Rather it said that "Monetary penalties have long been recognized as enforceable in civil proceedings and are not historically viewed as punishment. ... We conclude that the surcharges imposed by the driver responsibility program were intended by the legislature to be civil penalties." A "civil penalty" is not a synonym for "tax."

Anonymous said...

In Drake, the relator attempted to challenge the statute via the double jeaopardy route. The court deemed the surcharge not a penalty, but a civil one. Thus the relator failed in his attempt. If its not a criminal penalty then its a civil tax or fee. Congress is prohibited from delegating its taxing authority to the DPS or MSB. Daniel.

Anonymous said...

So how much did you have to pay?

Anonymous said...

I got three tickets 2 months ago. At the bottom of the ticket in big bold letters was a notice about my DL being liable to surcharges. I looked up the surcharge program online and did not like what I found. I asked around and several friends and co-workers have ill feelings and owed the program. I did some legal research and concluded that the statute is an unlawful tax and unconstitutional. I file a motion and brief to declare the statute unconstitutional. The court refused to rule on my motion. I gave written notice to the judge and prosecutor my application of writ of mandamus to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas. The judge then dismissed my cases over my objection. We are now before the Texas high court to obtain a ruling on my motion that has merit. I showed the high court four legal reasons that the statute is facially unconstitutional. The major point is that congress is prohibited from delegating their taxing authority to the DPS and MSB. I decided that I was not going to be liable now or later to this unlawful tax. I do this on behalf of myself and every person who drives on Texas roads. To answer your question. Zero now and ever to this surcharge program. Daniel.

Anonymous said...

We have movement today 8-18-2011 at the CCA of Texas. The writ was submitted to the Court. Daniel.

Anonymous said...

The CCA is all republican. Even though the writ has merit that the court might decline taking the case to insulate Gov Perry in his bid for the presidency. If the CCA refuses ruling on my motion that I will petition the US SCt to rule the statute unconstitutional. Daniel.

Anonymous said...

In response to a supporter.

Hopefully when the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas requests briefs then any licensed atty can file a amici brief (friend of the court) in support of my motion.  If you happen to know of any attys to ask if they could file a supporting brief.  Thats the best direct way to help convince the high court to declare the surcharge unconstitutional.  I'm able to write my brief.  

I know in "Drake" the appellant took a shot at the statute before the 3rd Court of Appeals. They attempted the double jeapardy angle of attack which it seems what the statute looks like. The court declared the surcharges not a criminal penalty, but a civil tax. That opens a big can of worms for the statute.  Congress is prohibited from delegating its taxing authority to the DPS or MSB, plus five other points so far.  

Also, if you can think of any other legal reasons the statute is unconstitional to send them my way so I can include them.

Hey, how about some rain?

Daniel Montes

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.

Anonymous said...

I don't know too much about the law etc. But what does this new lawsuit mean for the average everyday person who had to pay surcharges? My husband had many for no insurance, and one for driving while lisc. suspended (due to being unable to pay for his surcharge, and the same he was unable to pay for insurance just trying to keep food on his family's table).

Just curious what this means for any of us out there that have paid And what I should do to hop on board or just wait it out and see what happens!

Anonymous said...

Like everyone stop waiting. This motion affects every driver on Texas roads. Write a letter on your feelings of this surcharge program and how it has affected your life and family, have it notarized, mail the original and 11 copies to the Court of Criminal Appeals #WR-76,215-01, PO Box 12308, Austin Texas 78711, like TODAY.

Anonymous said...

My first legal point based on the following (be advised that I have four separate ones before the Court):

 Article II, Section 1 and Article III, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution divide the powers of the State of Texas into the three branches of government. The three branches are precluded from exercising "any power properly attached to either of the others." Tex. Const. art. II, § 1. Article III, Section 1 precludes the Legislature from delegating governmental power to private entities. See Proctor v. Andrews, 972 S.W.2d 729, 733 (Tex. 1998) ("the proper constitutional source for a prohibition of delegations to private entities or another government’s entities is Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution").

Like I said, Texas Congress prohibited from delagating its taxing authority to the DPD and or MSB.


Anonymous said...

Delegating, DPS. Sorry, typos...

Anonymous said...

How is it legally possible to claim that a surcharge is unconstitutional when you have not been subjected to the surcharge and, apparently, have no conviction or live case? How could a court declare something unconstitutional when there is no active case?

Anonymous said...

I'm not an attorney, but you are make a good point. My motion was properly filed and the court abused its discretion by failing to rule on it. I have no other legal remedy because the court dismissed the criminal charges. The elements are fulfilled satisfying mandamus jursidiction by the high court. Statute is facially unconstitutional. The state needs to prepare to refund over a billion dollars.

I will petition the US SCT if the TX CCA drops the ball. Call my bluff.

Who's side are you on? You sound like you are with the State. I'm on the side of the constitution. Don't tread on me.

Anonymous said...

OMG. CCA denied writ. Going to US Supreme Court now.


Anonymous said...

Daniel - - Coloradoans are with you! I have taken in a young couple from Texas - - both their jobs ended and they could not find work - - no DLs because of this horrible statute. Now, they have job opps here in CO and cannot land them because CO cooperates wiht Texas re: records and DLs!! Good Kids trying to survive and make life worth living.......
You go for it brother. Our prayers are with you

Shawn said...

How about a class action suit with all the people who have paid the fees? If they were to be refunded I'd think that would be a large enough sum, to support legal fees to attract a high zoot legal firm to take the case.
I am affected by this due to a no insurance ticket in 2004, due to an automatic payment failure, then Geico being a pain in the butt. It has been extremely difficult to keep up with this due to my wife loosing her job and me being in school full time while working full time myself. We're just trying to get ahead and keep our kids clothed. Luckily, I haven't had a moving violation in over 12 years, so I don't get stopped much. I'm caught up on my payments, but still have one more year to pay. I think it's definitely double jeopardy, and hitting a man when he's already down. Typical dumass Texas policy.

Anonymous said...

A suspended license due to surcharges only exacerbates the problem of the citizen by heaping on additional burdens which make it almost impossible to obtain reliable transportation to get to and from work in order to pay them. It is a malicious scheme that places our young workers in slavery to the State. Worse, the revenue exchange between the MSB, DPS and State originating from this program are overtly corrupt and ethically deplorable. Enough is enough. Young and working Texas do not deserve additional, residual penalties when they are already faced with rising education and living costs. These burdens only further the financial slavery our youth are currently under. Down with Chapter 708.

Anonymous said...

The only dwi was my first and last in 2005 in houston. I learned my lesson not to drink and drive. However, the surcharges I could not afford so I went without a license still today and drive without insurance because you can't be insured with a suspended license. I eventually had to fly so I had to get a state photo id to board planes since TX took my license, and my photo id for some reason didn't cross reference my license, and because of that, when I was pulled over several times between now and then, I was given a no driver's license ticket many times. I was lucky it wasn't a suspended charge because they carry a higher surcharge than a no dl charge. None the less, I have ended up with 4 more surcharges for driving with no dl and I definitely can't afford to get my license back. I can't get a promotion at my job because of not having a valid dl and they won't make me full time because of it and I really need fulltime status with the company so I can get medical benefits which the temporary service doesn't offer. I'm backed in a corner just hoping that I may get a second chance before it's too late. Arthur A.

Anonymous said...

It's a vicious cycle. You get busted for no insurance, which you probably couldn't afford at the time. Then you get nailed with a surcharge, which you also probably can't afford. Then your license gets suspended, which makes driving legally impossible and directly effects employment opportunities. Which comes back to the original problem. The amnesty and whatever that other program is, was a nice gesture. Except for the paperwork you have to go through to attain it. I'm a 28 year old hard working loyal Texan. I support my 2 kids and wife going paycheck to paycheck. One no insurance ticket has now put a full time promotion in jeopardy. I've busted my hump at this company for three years and have certainly earned this opportunity. Did I mention this company brings in some of the highest tourist revenue in Texas? It's a crying shame that the state I love and take great pride in, can do this to their own. Particularly with the current economic climate. Keep up the due diligence.

Travis said...

My one and only notice from the MSB was sent on March 16th demanding $260 by April 18th or my license would be suspended on that date. 33 days.

Reviewing the law ( it's stated clearly (Sec. 708.151, subsections a and b) that a second notice must be sent after 45 days, and only after an additional 60 days (a total of 105 days from original assessment) is a license subject to suspension.

Furthermore, while there is no indication on my notice that any amount over $260 is due, any more than just this once, according to this law I will owe $750 + assessment fees over the next 36 month period, and this law also states (Sec. 708.159. ADVANCE PAYMENT OF SURCHARGES.) that this amount must be made visible on the first notice sent, along with options for paying the amount in full, up front. Only the 12 month amount is ever given, no indication of recurring over the next 3 years is made, and no option to pay up front is referenced, or even offered by MSB once I contacted them on the phone.

This notice appears to violate the law, as would the suspension of my license after only 33 days. Along with the incontestability of the surcharge, this is turning into a nightmare I should not have to deal with in a free state.

As summarized quite nicely by the state themselves in their own summary of Ex parte Drake ( The State contends that Drake should have raised her constitutional claim in the municipal court during her trial for failing to maintain financial responsibility and, if necessary, pursued the issue on appeal from that conviction. But the surcharge was not imposed by the municipal court at the time of Drake's trial. Instead, the surcharge was assessed by the department of public safety eleven months after the municipal court trial ended. Drake was in no position to challenge the surcharge in the municipal court. Moreover, the driver responsibility program provides for the assessment of the surcharge without a prior hearing and without any subsequent review. Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§ 708.151, .152. Drake does not appear to have had an opportunity to challenge the surcharge in any previous proceeding.

There is no warning, and thus clearly no way to contest this surcharge before it has already been assessed. I was absolutely not explicitly informed about the Driver Responsibility Program at the time of my conviction for failure to maintain financial responsibility.

A copy of my original surcharge notice can be viewed at

The multiple violations in this surcharge notice only make me wonder how many people have already had their licenses illegally suspended before the 105 days required by TX Trans Code 708. When I spoke with a customer service "team lead" at MSB, Maria (Employee ID 100415) she told me, "We are aware of the law" but that "the law hasn't gotten around to us yet." She also confirmed for me that I was only sent one notice (on the 16th) and that no other notice was sent or lost in the mail.

Thanks for reading :) Let's get this garbage overturned!

Anonymous said...

Guys, this is just wrong. I can't find any other resources on fighting this besides Daniel's Writ and this blog. Thanks for all the

People who side with this program confuse me. I am receiving a surcharge notice now for the second year due to this point system, from a few tedious traffic tickets. And I paid the fines. Now I'm being penalized, ongoing for at least another year, and being threatened with suspension of my license. This "law" or code is absolutely ridiculous.

And I had never even heard of the program before I received a surcharge from them.

Anonymous said...

Great points on the unconstitutionality and unfairness of this law. My nightmare started when I was ticketed for not having current proof of insurance in my car. When I showed up at municipal court with my current insurance card, I found out the officer had himself dismissed the ticket, so I gave it no more thought. About two years later I was pulled over after runnung a DL check, the officer informed me my DL was suspended, I was ticketed for no DL (a lesser charge, because suspended DL required my arrest), and it was this officer who informed me and explained about the surcharge. I had never received any notice or even heard about the surcharge program.
I went on-line and found the site for surcharge, read it through looking for contact information (I thought it was just a matter of explaining that I was insured at time of ticket, just did'nt have the proof of it in my car), what I found instead, was that even if this was the case, I was still liable for the surcharge.
At this time, I am insured, but my DL is suspended because of unpaid surcharges. I have tried countless times to speak to someone about this, but all I get from MSB is that they are just a collecting agent for DPS, and DPS tells me they are bound to follow the law.
I guess this is one of those situations where Clayton Williams' advise to "relax, and enjoy it" would apply.

FighttheTXDRL said...

I'm still working to abolish this law! The vote for repeal is up in January and I will see it repealed! LOL, been working too long and hard not to.

Hang on everyone! This law will be removed from Texas law books!

Ur Awesome Gritts!

Thanks, Mary Moody
Mary Moody
Sign the petition at:

FighttheTXDRL said...

Don't worry everyone, the law is up for repeal next year and I will see it thru. I've been working very hard to repeal this crappy law for over 5 years. It will be abolished in September 2013.
Ur Awesome Gritts!
Mary Moody
Sign the petition at:

David Miedzianowski said...

I applaud you all and your efforts on this ridiculous issue. These surcharges are hurting honest hardworking texans. Spread the word and fight the good fight!

Anonymous said...

LETS HOLD THE POLITICIANS ACCOUNTABLE!!! Passing a law that blatantly ignores our constitutial rights should be punched by death. Soldiers are sworn to protect our freedom, constitution and way of life against all enemies foriegn AND domestic. It is the responsiblilty of every honorable American to demand civil war so that our freedom can be returned.

One Fm said...

People make mistakes. It shouldn't be made so difficult to correct them. This is a perverse law.

Loraine Haley said...

The Honorable Judge Quincy Beavers is using his position as a J.P. in Smith County to enforce uninsured motorist fines of drivers who HAVE liability coverage! On March 4 2005 I was stopped by officer Patrick Dark. Unable to locate my proof of financial responsibility in a timely manner Officer Dark told me to take my insurance card to show the Precinct One Justice of the Peace. Upon doing so I ...was fined $344.00. Insurance Agent George Cooper of Tx Wide Insurance went so far as to accompany me to Judge Beavers court and attempted to get an explanation. "The judge said only that his ruling stands and told my client to get a lawyer if he didn't like like it. In all my years as an agent, Ive seen nothing like it" Now seven years later Loraine Haley faces suspension of his liscense if he fails to pay the fine. "This is extortion, Judge Beavers knows the legal cost of fighting this is higher than the fine." "Im not the only person this has happened to" Judge Beavers last ran unopposed in Smith County. contact (51 min ago | post #1)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to fight these ridiculous surcharges. I cannot add to anything that has already been posted here. Any surcharge that is disguised or called something other than what it is, an illegal tax should be abolished immediately. I recently lost my license due to DWI arrest and conviction, I hope you can get this illegal tax taken off of the books. My resources have already been drained by my lawyer and the county. By the way, do a search for Mike Kruse DWI conviction. According to one article, the ex TX legistlator helped spearhead this surcharge. He was released with no punishment, of course. I have never ever heard of this happening before or since in Williamson County.

Trey said...

Here this one! I was issued a citation for no insurance in December 2004. In early 2005 I paid the fine and moved on with my life. In Septemeber 2010 I attempted to renew my license. I was informed I had a failure to appear charge for the no insurance offense. I returned to the jurisdiction where I received the citation and paid the fine. Now I have paid twice! My failure to appear is cleared and all is taken care of. I renew my license in September 2010 with no further problems. On 08-Feb-2012, MSB is notified I have been assessed a surcharge. On 09-Feb-2012 they send me a letter stating such. On March 25, 2012 MSB issues another letter telling me my license is supsended.

Amenesty was offered from Jan-2011 to Apr-2011. I did not take part because I was only informed of the surcharge in 2012.... 17 months after I renewed my license. 86.25 months after the offense was committed. How can the state withold reporting my surcharge until the amnesty program has expired? How can they only bring up the amount owed now, so long after it all took place. Of course, now they want me to pay this $ every year, for 3 years. Many years have already passed and I will be paying this thing when it happened a decade ago. A decade! Are you people kidding me? There must be a limitation on how long the state can withold the surcharge reporting.

I really do wish you the best of success and I do not intend to pay anything for the time being, as I have been living out of the US since 2006 and continue to do so today- thus I don't need my stupid drivers license anyway.

Anonymous said...

The sad part is that, not only is double jeopardy is actually multiply the fine 4 times and the money don't go to the hospitals that need the money is going to the rich crooks in Austin

Brian said...

Hey, the people running the program (Gila LLC which owns MSB) and earns a large chunk of change on transactional fees, likely gives large campaign contributions to Perry.

Shannon Stanford said...

We just found out about these surcharges and are very upset indeed. My son is 23 yrs old, he had his license suspended when he was 18 for a marijuana charge and has not been able to get enough money together to get it reinstated, this year he finally found a decent job and saved money for two months to get it reinstated in texas, we live in oklahoma! Now we find out that he has to pay $728 additional dollars and next year in July he'll have to pay another $364 in order to keep his license. He's not been even driving for those 5 years and they sister this law in and say he has to pay, I'm writing my congressman and whoever else it takes to get this law thrown out!!!! Thx for letting me vent, not a happy Mom here, he just found out he's going to have a baby, so now how will he ever get his license back..

Anonymous said...

You should check in to what happened in California. WE had the same exact surcharge there back the mid 90's.
It was fought and found to be unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court and every one who was charged had there money refunded.

As a contractor here in Texas I hire a lot of day labor. I have seen many of them paying up to 5 surcharge's a month!
The local cops love to pull over Hispanics and income people in old trucks. Hispanics rarely fight any tickets in court and the cops know that.
They just pay the ticket thinking the fine is the fine. 2 months later they get pulled over again and find there license is suspend for not paying the surcharge and they are arrested.
They pay the fine again and later fine out there is another surcharge for driving without a license! If they are 1 hour late paying there surcharge another warrant is issued.

This law is aimed at poor people. People with money or a good job don't let there Insurance or registration expire.
Some times with low income people its a mater of pay there Insurance this month or feed there kids.

If myself or any one else makes a mistake, write me a ticket, change me up the ass if you want. But don't come back 2 months later asking for another $1,500 !

Anonymous said...

I truly hope we can find a more responsible way to hold people accountable for infractions of the law.

Even a simpleton can point out that the simple solution is to not break the law in the first place, but it is not enough that we should simply not break the law. We should also not make it easy to break the law.

As any police officer will tell you if you are "tailed" long enough they will find some justification to pull you over. And more than likely arrest you. If the surcharge affected everyone who breaks the law not just those DWI or driving w/o insurance then this would have already been repealed. Imagine being arrested for jaywalking and then fined a thousand dollars every year for three years for "obstruction of a highway".

Furthermore, it disproportionately affects the poor, making criminals of otherwise perfectly law abiding citizens. Worst of all this program has a suspicious lack accountability to the citizens of the state of Texas. Texas is better than this.

If you really want to crack down on drunk drivers then increase the fine via the courts and automatically suspend licenses. If you really want to drastically reduce drunk driving then improve public transportation and discourage the commercial over-development of the bar/nightclub scene . If however you want to sell Texas' soul for a little bit of profit then go ahead and do nothing.

Cheryl Engelke said...

Is there anything new going on with this? In 2007 I paid off a lot of old tickets (from like 1998 - 2000) and then was assesed surcharges that I cannot afford to pay. I have already paid thousands of dollars to these people and still cannot get caught up. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Please contact the American Civil Liberties Union Texas office and file a complaint to repeal the TXDRP as unconstitutional.

Stand up, file a complaint, be heard, take action.

c biggs said...

WoW.... I had never heard of this program until I was hand cuffed, arrested and detained for 7 days. When the officer told me that my license was suspended and he would be taking me to jail, I thought "this can't be happening". After 3 appearances in front of the judge and 7 days later, the judge released me. He told me to get out there and make some phone calls and figure out what is going on, because no one in his court has been able to explain or justify my being there. I had gotten a ticket a year earlier for my license being expired. I paid the ticket. I NEVER received any type of NOTICE from anyone. I have had the same address for 23 years therefore I am confident that if notices were sent I would have received at least one of them. I made alot of phone calls, got on line, paid the surcharge in full. I thought I was done. I was just pulled over on 12-12-12, and the officer informed me that he would be taking me to jail for driving with a suspended license. I was on the way to my son's Jazz Band concert and could not believe what I was hearing. I once again, never got any notices. I did not know that it was for 3 years. I still should have received notices since I had paid the other in full. I went online and made a payment and it moved my status to "eligible". The officer ended up writing me a ticket for driving while license suspended. I now have a $220 ticket to pay and this will initiate a brand new surcharge I think.... I contacted MSB requesting copies of the notices sent to me regarding this surcharge. I can't believe it, I finally received something from them. SURCHARGE NOTIFICATION date January 8,2013 reference number Due date 06/13/12!!! lol "Your Texas driver license, permit or privilege to operate any motor vehicle in the State of Texas will be suspended effective 06/13/12 unless you comply with the requirements to pay a surcharge fee by the due date shown above" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is their proof and copies of the previous notices that they legally had to send me? To me it is simply a statement:

"We should have notified you last year of a surcharge that you are responsible for. It looks like we failed to do so therefore, we are telling now on January 8,2013 that if you don't pay this amount by 06/13/12 your license will be suspended. Oh Darn, that was over 6 months ago! They have made room for you at your local jail for such criminal acts and thus, creating a whole new problem for you. Happy Driving :)"

I am going to try and talk to the judge about this. All I can do is tell him what I do and don't know.... This is just a mess. To be made to feel like such an awful criminal. Sitting in that jail last November for 7 days was most humiliating and therapeutic I guess you could say. I tried to find the silver lining in the situation and I did. I had just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship that was tough in many ways. Those 7 days in that jail, with no communication or opportunity to be manipulated or let loneliness creep in, It gave me the solitude, space and freedom to think clearly and stand behind what I knew to be right; the relationship needed to end. So thank you to The State of Texas for providing me 7 days of humiliation.

Travis said...

A few notes for C. Biggs from my above post regarding this law:

Reviewing the law ( it's stated clearly (Sec. 708.151, subsections a and b) that a second notice must be sent after 45 days, and only after an additional 60 days (a total of 105 days from original assessment) is a license subject to suspension.

The multiple violations in this surcharge notice only make me wonder how many people have already had their licenses illegally suspended before the 105 days required by TX Trans Code 708. When I spoke with a customer service "team lead" at MSB, Maria (Employee ID 100415) she told me, "We are aware of the law" but that "the law hasn't gotten around to us yet." She also confirmed for me that I was only sent one notice (on the 16th) and that no other notice was sent or lost in the mail.

In your position I would hire a lawyer or contact the ACLU as they may be willing to represent you. The law clearly shows that MSB is in violation themselves, and that your license could not legally have been suspended prior to the notices being sent.

Anonymous said...

Scofflaws, I assume refers to people that believe that the law does not apply to them. Do you have a name then for those that believe the constitution does not apply to them? My story is less severe than most that I have read here, but still wrong. I “admitted guilt” to having no insurance when I paid a fine for speeding. Unable to appear in court do to an act of God, and not allowed to reschedule, I was forced to pay or have a warrant out for my arrest, which I was also forced to pay (both still before the court hearing). This led to my name being added to a list that the state determined owed a monthly fee for 3 years. I was too young and dumb to know how this would affect me, but I know this is wrong and know something must be done. What I want to know is this fight dead or not? On a personal note, if anyone can provide any good advice to help me clear my name or direct me towards someone who can, please contact me at Thank you.

David Pollard said...

One aspect that seems to fly in the face of the US Constitution is that they can apply the surcharge for tickets received *in an other state.* Aren't states prohibited by the US Constitution from taxing or charging what occurs outside of their borders? (Interstate Commerce clause comes to mind.)

Anonymous said...

I was and am a case where I was completely compliant with all laws except I simply had a few times I got pulled over and my copy of insurance was expired.....Now since I didn't get the current copy to my local court within 30 days due to me having to reschedule the first court date I was reported to this surcharge program and have had my license suspended for 7 years....The funny thing is I tried to tell them to contact the local court in the first place and verify my tickets were dismissed 45 days later and they did not care.....citing I was already reported and there is no way to reverse based on innocense...i mean come on you mean to tell me the fact I was responsible still means I pay for it......what criminals these people are....and I've also had to pay to get my license reinstated 2 times since I pay for insurance I can't afford the surcharges.....and I have an excellent insurance rate for being

Anonymous said...

Also, DPS will hit you with a surcharge for ANY traffic related ticket that is dated during a time period where your license was suspended even if you were NOT cited with DWLI. There is no statutory authority for a such action under ch 708 of the trans code.

Bob Renshaw said...

Fuck you, if I paid my ticket I shouldn't have to pay a fuckin surcharge fee. Your just saying that cuz your probably related to one of the snakes ghat slithered this bullshit law into action.

Anonymous said...

Yes I got a ticket for speeding in Kerrville ,Texas by Kerr County DPS officer �� he dropped the ticket for speeding which I believe I was doing the speed limit but had my liabilty insurance invalid so got the ticket for that got sent to the court to pay the county judge for the ticket which was $300 then I got two surcharges in the mail one for proof to carry insurance for two years or so which I did do through elephant �� insurance my auto insurance provider paid $75 sr-22 to file �� it with the state of Texas in Austin ,Texas but got this other one surcharge in the mail as well for first time no insurance code section 708 for $780 I was like what this is not right ,so its to much money ��,that or ur license is suspended just trying to get some answers of this crooked law already paid the count for the offense and my insurance carrier for having no insurance and show proof I do not understand $780 first time no insurance again ,points and all that the dos gives u for surcharges ,so yes I need feedback on someone who can dealt make sure about this crazy law code . Thank You Daniel Ignacio Valdez

Cecil L. Russell for President said...

It is absolutely amazing to me just how many people in Texas as absolutely ignorant about Texas traffic laws. For example, there is no existing speed limit for non commercial vehicles in Texas. The current and existing speed limit laws in Texas are thus:
Sec. 545.351. MAXIMUM SPEED REQUIREMENT. (a) An operator may not drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.
(b) An operator:
(1) may not drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for actual and potential hazards then existing; and
(2) shall control the speed of the vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with another person or vehicle that is on or entering the highway in compliance with law and the duty of each person to use due care.
(c) An operator shall, consistent with Subsections (a) and (b), drive at an appropriate reduced speed if:
(1) the operator is approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing;
(2) the operator is approaching and going around a curve;
(3) the operator is approaching a hill crest;
(4) the operator is traveling on a narrow or winding roadway; and
(5) a special hazard exists with regard to traffic, including pedestrians, or weather or highway conditions.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 30.109, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

The trick that police and courts play on Texas citizens is the allegation of exceeding the posted speed limit but the posted speed limit is ONLY for commercial vehicles. There is only one place in the entire Texas Transportation Code that discusses speed limit signs:

Texas Transportation Code Sec. 201.904. SPEED SIGNS. The department shall erect and
maintain on the highways and roads of this state appropriate signs that show the maximum lawful speed for commercial motor vehicles, truck tractors, truck trailers, truck semitrailers, and motor vehicles engaged in the business of transporting passengers for compensation or hire (buses).
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Since posted Speed Limit signs are ONLY for Commercial Vehicles, there is no existing speed limit in Texas for non commercial vehicles except that which is reasonable and prudent. How many millions of dollars has Texas courts extorted from citizens illegally?

Travis said...

Cecil, you may want to review the sections immediately after that (Sec. 545.352. PRIMA FACIE SPEED LIMITS and Sec. 545.353. AUTHORITY OF TEXAS TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION TO ALTER SPEED LIMITS) as these clearly define limits for acceptable (reasonable, prudent and therefore lawful) speeds for all vehicles on TX roads, and furthermore allow the TX Transportation Commission the ability to create more specific limits for specific roads by erecting speed limit signs.