Is state program with traffic ticket surcharges too harsh?

DPS ticket surcharges can be costly

ABILENE, Texas - If you disobey the law while driving and get a ticket, you might be paying more than you bargained for.

The Texas Department of Public Safety's Driver Responsibility Program began in 2003. It adds a surcharge for several types of offenses in addition to a normal fine. The surcharges range from $100 a year to $2,000 a year for a DWI conviction.

The program applies a surcharge for three years after you receive a ticket. If you do not pay the surcharge or get another ticket, your license is suspended until you pay. If you get another ticket, you have those additional surcharges on top of your current ticket.

Justice of the Peace Sparky Dean, who is a former DPS officer, said those who disobey the law while driving are causing more issues for themselves and those around them.

"It's a habit and it's a bad habit," Dean said.

Some, however, argue the program is too harsh.

"I think they're asking a little too much of these individuals to hit them up for three years at a hundred dollars a year plus other additional fees," Justice of the Peace Mike McAuliffe said.

But Dean said if you follow the law, it isn't an issue.

"Ninety-five percent of the society will never see any ramifications of this program because they drive legally," Dean said.

The surcharges are designed to reemphasize how important it is to follow the law to motorists who don't drive well, according to DPS.

The program brings in millions of dollars every year and doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. The DPS give 99 percent of the surcharges collected to trauma centers and the Texas General Revenue Fund.

Here are some of the surcharges for convicted offenses:

*- Driving without a license - $100

*- Driving with an invalid or suspended license - $250

*- Driving without insurance - $250

*- DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or greater in Texas or out of state - $2,000

For more information on the program, click here.

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