We may soon be nearing the end of the Driver Responsibility Fee. And it is long overdue.
What is this dreaded fee? Well, if you have ever accumulated more than 7 points within a 2 year calendar period as a result of moving violations, you have most certainly been forced to pay it. Also, if you have had the misfortune of receiving a Reckless Driving ticket, a Driving While License Suspended Ticket or, perhaps, a DUI Ticket (known as an OWI in Michigan), then you have absolutely doled out thousands of dollars because of it.
The Driver Responsibility Fee, enacted in 2004, is realistically nothing more than a "bad driver tax" owed to the State of Michigan which was essentially created to raise revenue for the state's budget – primarily toward the general fund. Fees range from $100 for having excessive points to $500-$1000 over the course of a 2-year period for a drinking and driving offense. The current laws are explained further in the following link:
Despite raising between $99 million and $155 million a year for the state's coffers, people have complained that the fees act only as a second punishment for the same offense as they are collected exclusively by the state and are in addition to the court costs and fines which offenders are already obligated to pay to local courts. As a result, after paying costs and fines to the court, individuals are often unable to pay the additional driver responsibility fees and have their driver license suspended for failing to do so. The increased financial burden of these fees consistently results in an extensive vortex of problems including an excessive number of individuals out of employment (due to their inability to drive) or fearing the loss of employment and an excessive number of individuals driving without a valid license and without proper insurance.
In response to these very unpopular fees - which are commonly referred to in courtrooms by many as the "death penalty for drivers" - House Bill 5414 (2104) has been introduced to phase out the fees by 2018. Here is a link to the bill:
The House Appropriations committee just this month voted unanimously to phase out the fees by 2018 moving the issue to the full House of Representatives. In 2011, the Legislature eliminated the fees for drivers found guilty of driving without a license or without insurance. The new bills outlined in the link above would reduce the two (2) year assessment of the fees to one (1) year and ultimately phase out the fees entirely by October 2, 2018.
It is clear that the days of driver responsibility fees are numbered, however, several more years of these very unpopular fees will remain until they are completely abolished.
If you have any further questions regarding driver responsibility fees, or need assistance about any other traffic, criminal or personal injury matters, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time for an absolutely free consultation.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact Freedman & Freedman or an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.