Lawmaker seeks to repeal DPS surcharges on cetain traffic tickets


by Andrea Lucia / 11 News

Posted on March 23, 2010 at 9:20 AM

There's a new call for the repeal of a Texas Department of Public Safety Driver Responsibility Program from a state representative who helped design the initiative.

The Texas Driver Responsibility Act allows the state to fine drivers, convicted of traffic violations to help fund highways and trauma centers.

At least, that was the idea State Rep. Sylvester Turner had when he helped write the bill seven years ago.

“It does not work.  We made a mistake,” says Turner.

The program’s fines range from $100 to $2000, but records show, only 40 percent of them have ever been paid.

“It's costing people too much.  They can't afford it,” said Turner.

More than a million driver’s licenses have been suspended, and Turner says today there are more people driving on our streets without a license, as a result.

Tamara Shippy said she knew she made a mistake when she let her driver’s license expire.

“I was aware, but I had no idea the consequences of an expired license would be so punitive,” says Shippy.

Caught driving without one, Shippy got a ticket, which she paid in court, but then she got letter, saying she owed $300 more.

“The whole thing to me sounded like a scam,” said Shippy.

As for the millions of dollars that are collected, well, they're not all going to the trauma centers or highways projects they were intended for.

Turner says much of the money has been diverted to the state’s general fund.

“Not nearly as many dollars have gone to the trauma centers,” said Turner.

That’s why this year he’s calling on lawmakers to abolish the very program he helped create.

So, is Shippy.

“It’s just a matter of right and wrong,” she said.

In two years, the college student has collected almost 5,000 signatures on a petition and convinced local Republicans to support her resolution against the program, which even has supporters saying it backfired.