Texas Driver Responsibility Program Causes Unexpected Consequences

According to the Texas Tribune, lawmakers are pushing to end a program in Texas called the Driver Responsibility Program. The reason: the program is having some unexpected negative consequences that are actually making drivers less safe.

Our Houston, TX accident attorneys believe that lawmakers need to act in a way to improve the safety of the road for every driver. Because the Texas Driver Responsibility Program is having the opposite of its intended impact and may actually be putting drivers at risk, we urge lawmakers to move forward on plans to put an end to the unsuccessful legislative program.

The Texas Driver Responsibility Program

The Texas Diver Responsibility program was signed into law in 2003. The purpose was to deter certain types of dangerous behavior. Driving with no insurance, driving on a suspended license, driving drunk and certain other types of behavior were singled out by the Driver Responsibility Program.

Drivers who committed an offense that was included in the program were subject to additional surcharges, above and beyond the standard fines and penalties. The surcharges often totaled in the thousands of dollars for serious offenses and drivers received points for lesser offenses that were added to their license. Drivers received notices of the surcharges assessed to them and were expected to pay within 105 days.  The intent was for the money to go toward trauma centers to provide support and funding for these centers. If drivers didn’t pay up, they would end up having their license suspended.

Unfortunately, a lot of drivers did not pay. In fact, there are now an estimated 1.3 million drivers who have had a license suspended as a result of a failure to pay their surcharges under the Driver Responsibility Program. Of course, this creates a compounding cycle because the drivers are now committing the offense of driving on a suspended license which can result in them being hit with even more surcharges.

Another unintended consequence of the legislation was that people didn’t want to take DUI pleas any more because they didn’t want to be hit with the huge surcharge. Prosecutors were forced to take cases to trial or to plead DUI charges down to lesser offenses, so the DUI conviction rate went down because of the Driver Responsibility Program.

Considering A Change

The program, while it may have been well-intentioned, clearly did not work as it should. Drivers are actually in greater danger as a result of the program for several reasons. First, with a lower rate of DUI convictions, there may be more drunk drivers who are able to stay on the roads and avoid the legal consequences of driving impaired. Second, drivers without a license cannot get insurance. Drivers without insurance put everyone in serious risk of financial peril. If these drivers get into an accident and hurt someone, they are not going to be able to pay for the damages that they are expected to cover, and the victim is going to be left with no viable recourse for collecting damages due.

With such serious problems created by the law, it is no wonder that lawmakers are moving to end the obviously unsuccessful program.

If you have been seriously injured in an accident and you are seeking experienced, aggressive attorneys to represent you, call Smith & Hassler for a no charge consultation: 713 739 1250.