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Texas Poised to Eliminate Driver Responsibility Program

By Peek & Toland on August 14, 2019

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.

Texas Poised to Eliminate Driver Responsibility Program

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.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Why Driver’s License Costs in Texas Are Pivotal in the Immigration Supreme Court Case

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2016

The cost of driver’s licenses in Texas may appear to be a dull, secondary issue in the pivotal Supreme Court immigration case of United States v. Texas, but it’s likely to be a crucial factor in the case.

Oral arguments were presented last month in a hearing that is one of the most significant immigration cases to come before the nation’s highest court this century and could provide relief to as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants. More than half of the country’s states are opposed to two initiatives that are central to President Obama’s immigration policy, known as DAPA and DACA.

The cost of driver's licenses are key to Texas's case against Obama's immigration policy

The cost of drivers’ licenses is pivotal in U.S v. Texas

  • DAPA is Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. It’s an immigration policy that would give deferred action status to certain classes of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and have children.
  • DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It’s an initiative aimed at non-citizens who arrived in the United States as children and is explained here in more depth by Peek & Toland . Under DACA some people who came to this country when they were young and meet certain guidelines “may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” states U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

As the lead plaintiff in this case, Texas must show that the action would hurt it in some way. That’s where driver’s licenses come in.

Texas is arguing it would take a major financial hit when it processes driver’s licenses for immigrants who have an illegal status because their deportation would be deferred under the president’s executive action. The state expects an upsurge in driver’s license applications after granting work authorization to previously undocumented immigrants.

The office of Texas’s attorney general has claimed Obama’s initiative would cause an upsurge in applications for driver’s licenses, making them more costly to issue. Texas must show it suffered a significant degree of “injury” to sue, but there is considerable skepticism about the driver’s license argument amid speculation it is merely a smokescreen to clothe a naked political agenda against immigration.

The state’s arguments were recently undermined by a Reuters article that quoted Bill Beardall, of the University of Texas Law School. Beardall, who is also the executive director of the Equal Justice Center, said the state’s claims are “tenuous.”

Texas claims the additional driver’s licenses would cost $103 million. However, that figure is nearly three times what Texas currently budgets every year for all driver’s licenses to 27 million people, Reuters reported.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, states:

“Texas is engaging in legal obfuscation they hope others won’t notice. First, having work authorization wouldn’t make those with DAPA or DACA eligible for licenses. It’s having received deferred action that allows immigrants to apply for and become tested, licensed, and insured drivers.”

It remains to be seen if the judges will issue a decision based on the case’s merits. A decision is likely in June and there is speculation that the Supreme Court will be split. Many of last months’ arguments concerned whether the states have standing to sue over the executive orders in the first place which is why the seemingly obscure arguments about driving licenses in Texas could prove to be so important. To find out more about the immigration reforms,

If you are affected by DAPA or DACA, it’s natural that you will be experiencing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Our Austin immigration attorneys can help you understand the process and to find out about more about the process of securing legal status in the U.S. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.

 

Posted in Deferred Action

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