The driver responsibility fees that were put in place and passed in 2004 by Governor Rick Snyder, are being phased out by October of 2019. The law was designed to raise money for the state as well as keep serious and repeat offenders off the roads. The fines of between $500 and $1000 were imposed above and beyond the standard traffic fees, so in effect, the state was “double dipping” according to those who disagreed with the fees.
Drivers who accumulated seven or more points on their driving records were required to pay a fee of $100 for two consecutive years, on top of the regular fines for moving violations. More serious offenses like DUI’s, accidents causing serious injury or death to others and resisting arrest, required fees of $1,000 paid for 2 years consecutively.
Judge William Kelly of Kent County is responsible for getting legislators to take a second look at the law and eventually having it removed. In May of 2014, Kelly appeared before a state House committee and told legislators about the toll he has seen the fee take on people he felt were fined for fairly minor offenses. He saw people of low income come into his courtroom who were caught driving on suspended licenses because they needed to get to work but were unable to pay the fines. Kelly felt it was like punishing people twice for the same crime and did little to keep roads safer. With the help of state representative, Joe Haverman, the plan to stop the double fine system went to the legislature and passed unanimously.
The state assessed fines of over $100 million dollars while the law was in effect, however, over $600 million in assessed fines has never been collected. Haverman suggested that if people are able to get their drivers licenses back, they will be able to work and pay taxes and help make up for some of the lost revenue.
Fines that are still outstanding can be repaid by doing community service. This is only for the minor infractions like driving with no proof of insurance, a revoked license or expired license. More serious events such as reckless driving or DUI’s, still have to pay the fees, though after 2017, the fining system will no longer exist for any violation.
The decision to stop the double fining system and allowing people to do community service will be a huge relief for many people and families in Michigan who just can’t seem to get out from under the crippling debt. Others argue that the responsibility fees were helping to keep dangerous drivers off the road and that it is irresponsible to let serious offenders off so easily. However you may feel, if you have been assessed a fee for a qualifying condition such as a minor infraction, you may be eligible to pay off you debt through community service. You can go to michigan.gov/driverresponsibility to find out more.
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If you need a traffic attorney call Collis & Griffor, PC today at 734.827.1337 or contact us to set up an appointment for a free consultation.