Legislature Considering Changes To Texas Driver Responsibility Program

Aug 6, 2014
Originally published on August 6, 2014 10:01 am

The Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety is considering legislation for the 2015 session that would completely revamp the Texas Driver Responsibility Program.  

The program allows the Department of Public Safety to assess surcharges on traffic tickets on top of the fine and court cost. DPS notifies the drivers via mail through a private contractor, the Municipal Service Bureau or MSB.

Lawmakers have expressed concern about the interface between the DPS and MSB and local law enforcement.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said too often people are going to jail after attempting to clean up their record.

"And they go in and make amends and pay for everything, they go back and they get everyone to draw up the tickets and they pay it and they believe life is great and it comes time to renew their insurance and they find out that there was a ticket years ago that was never included in this bailout,” Flynn said.

Draft legislation would attempt to bring all these databases together. But others, like Scott Henson with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, told the legislative committee he’d like to see the program go away in 2015.

“They want to tweak the program or fiddle around the edges and really it’s a fundamentally bad idea that causes many more problems that really aren't even acknowledged in this program," Henson said. "It’s a catastrophe, this program,”

The money going into the Driver Responsibility Program funds Texas trauma hospitals, and Henson suggested that legislators find an alternative funding source in 2015.

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