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Proposal Announced Changing Driver Responsibility Fees

Sep 29, 2017

On Thursday, Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt Twp.) announced a package of bills repealing the state’s driver responsibility fees and offering forgiveness to drivers who have been impacted by the policy.  Driver responsibility fees were passed in 2003, penalizing drivers with additional fees for offenses such as collecting multiple speeding tickets and driving without insurance.  Failure to pay often leads to additional court fees and fines.  According to the Speaker’s press release, more than 300,000 Michigan drivers are currently unable to drive legally because of the program and their inability to afford the fees.  “Since the fees were adopted, low-income residents have been hit especially hard.  They may have difficulty paying the original fee and then are assessed additional fees for failure to pay the first fee.  If they lose their license and are unable to drive to their place of employment, they are put at a further disadvantage and would have an even harder time paying the costs,” explained Tim Ward of MLC.

Highlights of the bipartisan package include:

  • Full forgiveness of outstanding debts related to these fines to Michigan drivers once the program is eliminated
  • Creates an education outreach program to let drivers know how to reinstate their license
  • Creates a community service option for people who cannot pay their fines but would like to re-earn their license before the 2018 forgiveness
  • Provides immediate forgiveness to drivers who are currently making a good-faith effort to pay their fines
  • Accelerates the elimination of driver responsibility fees from 2019 to 2018
  • Reinstates eligibility for drivers’ licenses to affected drivers when the program is eliminated
  • Creates a path for drivers to utilize court sobriety programs to regain their license

The seven-bill package was referred to the House Competitiveness Committee for consideration.

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