Debtor’s Prison and Texas Drivers

In order to balance the budget a few years ago the Texas Legislature instituted an oppresive and regressive tax scheme called the “Driver Responsibility Program“. The DRP issues “surcharges” (taxes) ranging from $200-$2000 for various traffic offenses.

So far, the program has taxed $900M, and collected ….$300M. Not paying the “surcharge” results in a driver’s license suspension. Driving without a license is a separate offense that can result in jail time (after 9/1/07 it can be a class C misdemeanor). In essence, we have created a new debtor’s prison for drivers.

Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who sponsored the legislation, said the massive noncompliance with the surcharges exemplifies a “big problem” for state government. “If we could only collect all the fines and fees the state is owed, we could cut taxes because we would have a lot more money than we have now,” he said.

Mr. Ogden failure to grasp the obvious is typical for a politician. The “fines and fees” are taxes. If you collected them you would not be cutting taxes, merely shifting them. The “big problem” for state government is the failure to cut spending.

What Texas really needs is a “Government Spending Responsibility Program.” Instead we pimp out the criminal justice system to raise money.

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4 responses to “Debtor’s Prison and Texas Drivers”

  1. <img src="http://www.blogger.c says:

    When was the last time the state cut taxes? I cannot think of a single instance.Dennis

  2. <img src="http://www.blogge says:

    I think you’ve hit upon an idea for a new reality show: Pimp My Budget! Host Ted Stevens guides a new legislator each week in hiding egregious pork spending in byzantine appropriations bills.

  3. <img src="http://www.blogger.c says:

    I have discovered is that the entire fate of Texas is connected to the Surcharge Program. This is because the money from the Unconstitutional program is earmarked for the Tran-Texas Corridor, which is a strategic segment of what is to become a Super Corridor that spans the entire North American Continent.Through the Driver Responsibility Program, the state is suspending people’s license over not paying an excessive surcharge fee that is in addition to what you agree to in court. What’s more is the money is going to pay for the Corridor projects, without consent or knowledge of the People or Congress! I believe that spreading the word would enable individuals to better deal with the negative effects that the TX DRP has had on their lives, as well as have a say in their own future.Please SIGN and help spread the word!!!TX Driver Responsibility Surcharge Program Petition-TX DRP Surcharge PetitionMany Thanks~Tamara Shippytamarashippy@hotmail.comThis law (DRP) is a scam on the poor; the state is using a person’s DL, the key to their lively hood and ability to hold a job, to extort money from Texas Drivers.The additional fines for such offenses as missing one insurance payment, or having an expired Driver’s License defeat the purpose of the law itself (improving the number of drivers with this type of offense- the numbers have skyrocketed). The additional punishment is not mentioned in the original court preceding, paperwork, or contract. There is no way to appeal them, or wave them, and the judge has no discretionary power to alleviate the cost to those who are financially devastated by the DRP. If insurance is to be required by law, then the state should ensure that rates are affordable for every one. Who receives money from the surcharges?TX DPSEach surcharge collected by the department under this law will be remitted to the Comptroller, on a monthly basis. Trauma centers and county and regional emergency medical services will receive 49.5 percent of the collected money, and the Texas Mobility fund will receive 49.5 percent of the collected money. The money that goes to trauma centers will be handled by the Texas Department of Health, while the **Texas Department of Transportation ** will handle money going to the **Mobility fund**, which funds highway projects, including the **Trans-Texas Corridor**. The remaining one percent of the collected money will go to DPS for operation of the Driver Responsibility program.The DRP legislation is engineered to generate revenue for the Trans-Texas Corridor. It was established to coincide with the law authorizing the TTC. A new report shows that we had plenty of funds to establish and maintain our highways and infrastructure. When proponents of the TTC decided to embark on a personal agenda in hopes of ensuring their legacy, they placed an unnecessary, unprecedented financial burden on Texas. The TTC will not relieve congestion in and around our states metropolitan areas; it will literally cut Texas in half.(Good luck to any living thing that tries to migrate across central Texas EVER again). Not to mention, the area underlying all of this is crucial land for so many reasons; this includes a large part of our ground water reservoirs and natural resources, as well as land crucial to the arming and agriculture communities. Although some may argue that driving is a privilege, many areas, especially in the state of Texas, lack a reasonable mass transit system that connects suburbs to the metropolitan area. If you live in NY or Chicago, you could actually survive/thrive and not drive. You would also not have to pay for car insurance. I think that it’s a shame that in Texas, you really do not have that option. Metro doesn’t go beyond city limits, and the costs of Taxis are outrageous.Sidewalks are a part of our basic infrastructure and surprisingly there is an extreme lack of sidewalks that even lead from neighborhoods to the closest shopping/working areas.Sidewalk ProjectFurther examination reveals how license suspensions unfairly impact the poor and middle class citizens, while the wealthy are vaguely impacted. Traffic tickets punish drivers while richly rewarding the state andPoor Texans the ones being hurt by increase in charges, Shapleigh says .As for the economic aspect, suspending people’s license, especially for not paying fines that they cannot afford, prevents them from driving to work and making money- money that they would likely spend and contribute to the state’s economy. Filling our jails/prisons with non-violent, misdemeanor offenders will not solve the extreme overcrowding issues our criminal system is currently facing a major contributor to local jail overcrowding .Many people who fall into the Driver Responsibility Program are law abiding citizens who do pay their insurance or have maintained an updated license before. They are not habitual offenders; they are hardworking citizens who use their income strictly to pay for rent, electricity, water, health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, medical bills, gas, car maintenance/repair, food/groceries, school supplies, etc. If they fall behind on a payment for car insurance and then face a surcharge that is non-disputable, then the situation snowballs. Also, in TEXAS, relying on public transportation is extremely unrealistic.Great Study- Study examines impact of DL suspension on Poor

  4. Jere Alexander says:

    It’s shameful that elected officials choose to ignore the United States Constitution and the fourteenth amendment even though many of them took an oath of office promising to protect it. It is now more important for elected officials to fleece middle class citizens out of their hard earned money than it is to protect the foundation of this country. This of course contributes to a bad economy by making it worse. The Texas Driver Responsibility program is by far the worst and most irresponsible action ever taken against Texas citizens.

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