The Texas Driver responsibility Program has been a huge disaster for Texans and this has been admitted by same people who wrote the bill. Not only does the Bill not even do what it was intended but it has created a huge hardship on Texans.
- Extremely Low Surcharge Collection Rate
The DRP has generated far less revenue than originally anticipated.[i] Whether due to confusion over being fined for a criminal offense already adjudicated by a court of law, or due to an inability to afford the surcharges, the majority of Texas drivers subjected to DRP surcharges never pay them. As of August 31, 2012, of the $2.85 billion in total surcharges assessed by DPS since the program’s inception, only $1.14 billion – less than 40% – had been collected.
- Devastating Impact on Texas Courts
For years, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice practitioners have expressed concern over the degree to which DRP surcharges are distorting Texas’ court system. From declining DWI conviction rates to surging DWLI offenses to exploding caseload backlogs, the DRP’s impact on Texas courts are yet another example of the unintended consequences of this ill-conceived program.
- Financial Hardship for Texans
While annual surcharges may be a mere nuisance for well-heeled Texans, they can be a devastating blow to low-income drivers and families. The economic impact of license surcharge programs has been studied in detail in states with laws similar to Texas, and they have been found to severely undermine low-income drivers’ financial security.
A 2006 survey from the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Affordability and Fairness Task Force examined the surcharge’s impact on drivers with licenses suspended due to their own Driver Responsibility Program, which levies the same license surcharges as the Texas DRP. According to that survey, among persons with suspended licenses whose annual income was under $30,000:
64% were unable to maintain their employment following a license suspension;
51% of persons who lost their job following a license suspension were unable to find new employment;
65% were unable to pay increased insurance costs; and
90% were unable to pay other costs as a result of surcharges and/or suspended driving privileges.
- More Unlicensed, Uninsured Motorists on Texas Roads
As mentioned previously, 1.3 million Texas drivers currently have invalid licenses because of overdue DRP surcharges. Since a valid driver’s license is a requirement to purchase liability insurance, many of those drivers are no longer able to insure their vehicles. Given the lack of viable transportation alternatives in most of Texas (especially rural areas), large numbers – if not virtually all – of those drivers likely continue to drive.
- Decreased Public Safety in Texas
Besides raising revenue for the state, the principal objective of the Driver Responsibility Program has been to improve public safety. However, there is no evidence that the DRP has increased public safety. When asked during a 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Public Safety whether any evidence exists showingthat the DRP increases public safety, DPS Director Steve McCraw answered simply and emphatically, “No, sir. Not at all.” In fact, evidence indicates that the program may actually be making the public less safe, particularly as it relates to an especially dangerous habit in Texas – drunk driving.