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September 29, 2004


Thousands of Texas Drivers Facing Fees or Revocations

Nearly 200,000 Texas drivers face possible driver license revocations unless they pay surcharges as part of a new legislative program being implemented this week.

The Driver Responsibility Program, which assesses fees for a variety of driving-related offenses, was approved by the Legislature in 2003. It took effect September 2003, but the surcharges could not be collected until the proper software was developed and a vendor selected. The revenue generated by the program goes to trauma centers, emergency medical services and the Texas Mobility Fund.

Letters detailing the amount owed are now being mailed at the rate of about 5,000 a day to the most recent addresses on file with DPS. Drivers have 30 days after the notices are sent to either make payment or payment arrangements. If they do not, their driving privileges will be revoked, and they are not eligible for an occupational license. If caught driving with a revoked license, offenders face arrest for driving while license invalid, a class B misdemeanor.

"It's in their best interest for drivers to respond promptly to the letters," said DPS Director Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr. "Drivers who do not receive the notice because DPS has an incorrect address are still responsible for the fees."

As of Sept. 1, 2003, certain offenses carry an automatic surcharge for three years, including DWI-related offenses, no insurance, driving while license suspended and driving without a license. For example, the fee for a first-time DWI offender is $1,000 per year for three years.

Also, since September of last year, 318 Texas drivers have been assigned points based on certain moving violation convictions in Texas and other states. Anyone who accumulates six points in any given three-year period will be required to pay $100. The fee will be required every year that the three-year driver history reflects a minimum of six points. Every additional point after that will result in an additional $25 charge.

"From a traffic safety perspective, we are hopeful this program will serve as a deterrent to dangerous driving, especially DWIs," said Davis. "The surcharges under this law are in addition to any other costs associated with the driving offenses-another good reason to obey traffic laws at all times."

Surcharges due every year for three years include convictions for:

All charges are cumulative.

Total number of drivers affected by surcharges:

No insurance 114,010
DWI-related 23,366
No driver license 47,529
Driving while license invalid 6,000

For other moving violation convictions, DPS will assign points to a person's license as follows:

Points will not be assigned for speeding less than 10 percent over the posted limit or seat belt convictions.

The vendor, Municipal Services Bureau, is responsible for mailing the letters and collecting all fees. Payment options include installment agreements, and payments can be made by check, credit card and at Western Union offices. In all, $67 million in surcharges are currently due.

For more information on the program go to New Laws or Chapter 708 of the Texas Transportation Code.

A complete list of moving violations that will be assessed points can be found in Title 37 Part 1 (DPS) Texas Administrative Code Chapter 15 Subchapter D Rule 89. (http://info.sos.state.tx.us/fids/200505125-1.html).

To discuss expedited delivery of your payment, including Western Union or check/credit card payment over the phone, please contact the Municipal Services Bureau at 1-800-688-6882 or 1-512-454-4759.