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Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB2068, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a positive impact of $11,730,812 through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
HB 2068 amends code relating to the repeal and redirection of fees associated with the driver responsibility program (DRP).
Current law states that the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP), which was enacted in 2003, requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to apply surcharges to individuals with certain traffic convictions.
First, the bill would modify fees associated with certain state traffic fines by increasing the fees from $30 to $60. The percent retained by Municipalities or counties would be reduced from 5 to 4 percent. The bill would direct the Comptroller’s office to deposit the funds received from the collection of the state traffic fees by depositing 45 percent (a reduction from 67 percent) into un-dedicated general revenue fund and 55 percent (an increase from 33 percent) into the trauma facility and emergency medical services account.
Second, the bill would require an additional fine for final conviction for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Those fines include $3,000 for the first conviction within a 3 year period, $4,500 for a second conviction within a 3 year period, and $6,000 for any conviction if shown at trail the person’s alcohol concentration level of .16 or more.
The bill would require an individual that is conducting a driver education course must not have been convicted in the preceding 36 – month period.
The Driver Responsibility Program as it currently stands is a well-intentioned program which, like many well-intentioned government programs, turned out in actual practice to be very burdensome, costly, and deeply frustrating for citizens. The program is like the Hotel California - you can check in but you can never check out. People unable to pay heavy fines get locked into a recurring cycle of having more fines add up over time leaving them with a mountain of debt they can not pay. This is classic big-government and we support its repeal.
One key change this legislation makes is to place the fine associated with a driving under the influence conviction on the person's criminal file so that they set up a payment plan with the court and get the fine paid off over time rather than having additional fees pile up for not paying on an arbitrary time table as under the current system.
While we do not agree with every provision of the bill and we have serious concerns about perpetuating a system in which we use DUI fines as a revenue source for funding trauma centers, we view this as an improvement over the status quo with respect to limited government and individual liberty. For these reasons we support HB 2068.