Texas drivers with suspended licenses may see end to surcharges

There are a number of DWI charges that a driver could face, such as a first offense DWI, a felony DWI, or intoxication manslaughter. But whatever the charge, one penalty that a driver can almost always expect is a driver's license suspension. Having a suspended license means that a driver loses his or her driving privileges for a set amount of time.

But recently, the number of drivers on the road without a valid license has raised some concerns, concerns that were brought to a House committee's attention. Research around the Texas Driver Responsibility Program shows a large number of drivers who continue to drive even though their licenses have been suspended. This has people wondering whether the program should be repealed.

The program was created in an attempt to deter drivers from committing moving violations such as drunk driving and driving without a license. This was done by giving drivers convicted of these charges an additional fine to pay. When combined with the other fines and penalties that come with a conviction, the amount was high.

A Representative from Fort Worth created a bill that would get rid of the current program. He believes that, while the original program was well-intended, the consequences were too great.

An example that the article gave was that defendants would exercise their right for a trial to avoid having to pay the surcharge. As a result, there was an influx of defendants and prosecutors had to accept lesser plea bargains to prevent a backlog of cases in the court system.

In addition, as stated above, the program failed to prevent drivers with suspended licenses from getting behind the wheel. Given these factors and the original intent of the program, should the program be repealed?

Source: The Dallas Morning News online, "House panel urged to kill Texas driver surcharge program," Terrence Stutz, 22 March 2011

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