Texas drivers in default can get a suspended license reinstated

Despite Texas highway officials' best efforts, there are an estimated 1.2 million Texans who are currently in default for surcharges relating to traffic violations. Texas officials had created a program that creates a surcharge people have to pay as a penalty for different traffic violations. The program didn't really work as most drivers either didn't pay or could not pay the surcharges.

Now the Public Safety Commission has created an amnesty program for Texas drivers who are in default after not paying the surcharges that they owe. One of the goals for this amnesty program is to reinstate drivers' licenses; defaulting on payments leads to license suspension.

Many Texans in default who have had their license suspended still continue to drive. Then, they would get pulled over and acquire even more surcharges. Surcharges were also a part of the penalties for violations like not having insurance or drunk driving.

An offense for DWI carries surcharges that range from $1000 to $2000 a year, depending on the circumstances. These fines are in addition to fines that are already associated with DWI offenses. For those who are students or low-income residents, those amounts can add up.

How does the amnesty program work? Drivers who are in default apply to have a portion of their fees forgiven. They can also have their suspended license reinstated. The program is only offered for Texans who obtained the surcharge penalties within a set period of time between 2004 and 2008. In addition, one of their charges had to be in default before January 17 of this year.

Once the amnesty period is over, another program begins that will help Texans get their licenses back by modifying their surcharge payment. This will be especially beneficial for drivers who are unable to afford the surcharges that they owe.

Source: Dallas Morning News online, "Amnesty offered to 650,000 Texas drivers who owe surcharges for violations," Terrence Stutz, 24 January 2011


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