Senate Passes Caswell Bill To Eliminate Portions Of Driver Responsibility Program
Friday, July 01, 2011
LANSING – Today, the Michigan Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 166, a bill introduced by Senator Bruce Caswell (R-Hillsdale) to eliminate the state’s Driver Responsibility program. The Senate amended the bill to eliminate keep portions of the bill that penalize the most egregious traffic violations, while eliminating many of the lower level offenses that trigger a Driver Responsibility fine.
“For many years I have worked to end the draconian Driver Responsibility program. Today, I proudly announce that we have taken a large step to eliminate this bad law,” said Caswell. “This terrible program was created as an alleged ‘quick and easy’ fix to the state’s budget problems, but it failed to generate the money promised. Instead of making difficult decisions the Legislature and Governor tried to balance the budget on the backs of working families that cannot afford an additional draw on their limited resources.”
The amended SB 166 retains fines for the most serious driving violations, including operating while intoxicated, hit and run accidents, fleeing and eluding police, and reckless driving. The changes passed by the Senate eliminate fines assessed for people accruing seven or more points on their driving record, driving without insurance or without proof of insurance, and driving without a license.
“I was truly humbled by the outpouring of support by my colleagues in passing Senate Bill 166 to make sweeping changes to the Driver Responsibility program. The bill does not eliminate the program completely, but eliminates all but the worse violations that trigger a fine,” Caswell said. “While we have more work to do to eliminate the program completely in the future, this legislation has moved us closer to that ultimate point.”
The Driver Responsibility program became law in 2003 in order to generate revenue for the state’s budget deficit. The program assesses an additional administrative fee, from $150 to $1,000 for two years, to drivers that violate certain parts of the traffic code or receive a certain number of points on their driving records, even after they have paid any fines and penalties handed down by a judge. A driver will have his license suspended if he does not pay the fee in a timely fashion and must pay an additional $125 to have the license reinstated. From 2004 to 2010, the Driver Responsibility program issued over $1.2 billion in assessments, but only collected $720 million, a return of only 60%. The program has resulted in nearly 2.5 million license suspensions since its creation.
Senate Bill 166 now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
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