AUSTIN – Texas Governor Greg Abbott today signed House Bill 2048, a bill that ends the Driver Responsibility Program, which required Texans convicted of certain traffic offenses to pay an annual surcharge on top of court fines and criminal penalties to maintain their drivers' licenses. Once signed by the governor, the law will end the program, wipe out any surcharges pending on the bill's effective date, and require the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to reinstate any driver's license that is suspended under the program.
Terri Burke, executive director for the ACLU of Texas, had the following reaction:
“We’re pleased that Governor Abbott and Texas legislators worked together to finally end debt-related license suspensions. The Driver Responsibility Program has forced thousands of Texans to pay for their liberty which is no justice at all. Suspending someone’s license only further removes them from the workforce, leaving them without money to pay additional fees. With partners across the state, the ACLU of Texas has worked for years to end this program. This is a major step in our quest to create a criminal justice system for Texas that is not only smarter but more just, particularly for those most affected by systemic hardship.”
According to data provided by Texas DPS in May 2019, an estimated:
- 634,933 people will automatically have their suspensions lifted when HB 2048 is enacted, because they have no other fees or underlying suspensions;
- 350,027 people will have their suspensions lifted when HB 2048 is enacted after paying a reinstatement fee; and
- 398,163 people will be eligible to have their suspensions lifted after they resolve other non-DRP reasons for their license suspensions, such as failure to pay or appear.