Read our letter (PDF) to the Texas Department of Public Safety regarding the DRP.
The Driver’s Responsibility Program (DRP) established by the legislature in 2003 was designed, in part, to fund trauma care. Under this program, fees (in addition to fines) imposed for driving-related offenses are supposed to go to trauma centers, emergency medical centers and the state’s general revenue fund. Instead, the DRP has become a virtual debtor’s prison. Two-thirds of all fees remain uncollected because, for example, many traffic offenders can’t work since their driver’s licenses were suspended for failure to pay. In other cases, fees are simply too costly for low income Texans to pay.
The DRP causes unlicensed and uninsured drivers, while a huge percentage of the trauma care dollars remain uncollected.
The system isn’t supposed to work this way
It is time for reform that makes it possible for even indigent traffic offenders to pay their fees and fines and keep their licenses so they can continue to work and pay their fees and fines, assuming their offenses are not serious enough for suspension of driver’s licenses. Public transportation is an option in some cities but in much of small town and rural Texas, driving to work is a necessity for employment.
A waiver for indigence (scheduled for next year) should be implemented immediately. The ongoing recession has contributed to loss of jobs all the while diminishing and exhausting some drivers’ already greatly reduced ability to pay. They are caught in a hopeless situation. To keep people employed so they can pay their fines, the program should offer greater reduction in fees scaled to income as well as payment plans.
Traffic tickets shouldn’t lead to debtor’s prison.