Ding-Dong!  The Witch Is Dead!” - The Death of Texas Surcharges

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On September 1, 2019, the streets of Texas rejoiced. Texas roads just got a little freer.

In June, the Texas Legislature and Governor Greg Abbott finally heeded the cries of the ACLU and countless other advocates, who correctly pointed out that the Driver Responsibility Program, which would more have more appropriately been entitled the Texas Surcharge Act, was unfairly and disproportionately affecting poor driver’s in Texas by bleeding them dry financially and getting them in an endless loop of driver’s license suspensions fueled by an inability to pay the mounting surcharges for minor traffic violations.

Once a driver was caught in surcharge Hell, it could be impossible to get out. A driver that made an unfortunate mistake and was convicted or driving while intoxicated used to be hit with a minimum $1,000 annual surcharge for three years. If that same driver picked up a speeding ticket in the same time frame, he could potentially have additional surcharges. If he was driving on a suspended on a suspended license when he received the speeding ticket, forget about it. Tack on another mandatory DPS suspension along with the surcharges. And this was the loop that so many Texans found themselves in just trying to go to work or get their kids to school.

On September 1, 2019, 630,000 driver’s licenses became eligible that were suspended solely because the driver could not afford to pay the surcharges. This means if you had existing surcharges, you no longer do. If your license was suspended due to the fact that you were behind on your surcharges, you should immediately go to DPS and pay your reissue fee and get back on the roads in good standing. If you have questions about whether your license is eligible simply click here: Texas Driver's License Eligibility.

As with all god news, it is followed by bad news. To try and bridge the budget gap created by the loss in surcharge fees, the Texas Legislature is now imposing hefty mandatory fines on all DWI convictions. This is a subject we will address is a coming blog.

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