Texas ‘bad-driver’ fees go away Sept. 1

August 29, 2019

Keith Goble


A new Texas law in effect this Sunday repeals a “bad driver” statute that had been under fire from drivers and others for nearly two decades.

It is estimated that more than one-half million Texans will be immediately eligible to legally get back on the road.

Since 2003, the state’s Driver Responsibility Program has added surcharges to drivers who receive certain violations or multiple violations, such as speeding and driving without a valid license. The $300 million program doubles as a source of revenue for emergency trauma centers in the state.

Advocates said the money routed to hospitals is used treat people often injured in bad wrecks. They added that it helps the state secure federal money related to Medicare.

H3 One point of contention about the bad driver program was that offenders are required to pay fees annually for three years – on top of the traffic violation fine itself.

Some said the bad driver program created a cycle of escalating fines for low-income people who cannot afford to pay fines and any surcharges.

Despite the complaints through the years state lawmakers were unwilling to abandon the source of revenue for trauma centers.

Legislation approved at the statehouse and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, however, provides an alternative source of trauma funding to replace the driver responsibility fees.

Specifically, the new law raises all traffic fines in the state by $20. Insurance bills also will increase by $2. Additionally, drunken driving convictions could increase by as much as $6,000.

Beginning Sept. 1, people with suspended licenses will be able to have their driving privileges reinstated as long as the driver responsibility fees are the only thing preventing them from being able to drive legally.