By: Jadranko Tomic-Bobas, J.D., Hotline Attorney; Emilee Evans, Legal Intern
On February 14, 2018, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation ending driver responsibility fees and eliminating $637 million in debt owed by 350,000 drivers. According to Crain’s Detroit, the fees being forgiven include driving fees, “that stem from a state-level tax on municipal traffic violations”. Not only will fees for previous offenses be forgiven, but the fee to reinstate a license will also be waived.
The website on Driver Responsibility specifies monetary sanctions for drivers who have accumulated seven or more points on their driving record or have convictions for “qualifying offenses”. Examples of Category 1 offenses include speeding, improper turns, or following too closely. Examples of Category 2 offenses include drunk driving, reckless driving, no proof of insurance, or driving with an expired license.
Crain’s Detroit states, that these Driver Responsibility Fees became a large issue when about 348,000 drivers were unable to pay the fees and lost their license. This became a significant barrier to work, further preventing drivers from paying the fees. Crain’s Detroit reports that 70,000 people who had their license revoked were from the Detroit area, “in the automobile capital of the world- where mobility should be both affordable and accessible”. Detroit business lobbyists had been fighting for years to get these licenses back, and now $637 million in fees will be forgiven.
Beginning October 1, 2018, no new driver responsibility fees will be issued, the outstanding debt will be forgiven, and drivers will be eligible to have their driver’s licenses reinstated without a fee. Individuals who entered a payment plan on or before February 1, 2018, will have their outstanding fees eliminated beginning March 31, 2018. This will benefit Michiganders across the board.