Governor Greg Abbott recently signed House Bill 2048, which will go into effect on September 1, 2019. This bill ends the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which levied annual surcharges on top of criminal penalties for individuals convicted of specific traffic offenses. Drivers who were unable to pay the surcharges, which could be as high as $1,000 per year, were subject to license suspension. Many of these suspensions resulted from surcharges stemming from relatively minor misdemeanor offenses.
Many groups have sought to eliminate DRP for years, claiming that it unfairly penalized individuals who already had served their sentences for the criminal offenses. Suspending the licenses of these individuals often was counter-productive, in that it made it harder for them to find or travel to work. An inability to work, in turn, made it harder for these individuals to pay the surcharges to get their licenses back.
With the enactment of this bill, about 1.5 million people could be eligible for reinstatement of their driver’s licenses. Any outstanding surcharges as of September 1, 2019, will disappear automatically without the individuals having to take any further action. According to data provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), over 630,000 will see their licenses automatically reinstated as of September 1, 2019. Another 350,000 people will be able to regain their licenses after paying a reinstatement fee. Almost 400,000 additional people will be eligible to reinstate their licenses, but only after they have resolved other suspension reasons unrelated to DRP.
With the elimination of DRP, however, also came increases in fines and penalties for some traffic offenses. For instance, the penalties for a first-time DUI offender will increase. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We then can help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you, based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.