During the last legislative session, lawmakers repealed the Texas Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which assessed surcharges on traffic tickets that drivers received. When drivers failed to pay ticket fines and surcharges or enter a payment plan, they could lose their driver’s licenses.
Although the repeal of the DRP became effective September 1, 2019, problems still exist for drivers whose licenses were suspended under the DRP. Despite their efforts to reform the DRP, legislators did not make changes to the “Failure to Appear/Failure to Pay” program, which is administered at the local level. This program is often referred to as the “OmniBase program” because OmniBase Services of Texas operates the program and receives two-thirds of the $30 fee that the program adds to every reported violation. Under the OmniBase program, drivers cannot renew their licenses until they have resolved outstanding county or city court debt. Like the DRP, the OmniBase program has led many people being unable to drive legally due to their unpaid debts.
The DRP and the OmniBase program created the same problems for drivers with outstanding debts. They are unable to drive until they can pay the debts, and the programs added additional fines and fees when the debts remained unpaid. The only distinction is that while the DRP dealt with state-owned debts, the OmniBase program deals with county and city-owned debts. For the drivers, however, the outcome is the same. They are unable to drive legally due to the money that they owe the government.
While the repeal of the DRP resulted in some drivers being able to regain their driving privileges, many drivers still have no licenses due to the OmniBase program. Therefore, while reform efforts are moving in the right direction, the Texas legislature still must take further steps to eliminate driver’s license suspensions based on unpaid fees and fines related to traffic violations.
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