Responsibility Fees for Drunk Driving and Other Offenses May be Discontinued
Under current law, drivers whose records accumulate seven or more points must pay a driver responsibility fee of not less than $100 for two years.This fee is charged in addition to any fines for the offense itself. Drivers convicted of other offenses, including drunk driving and reckless driving, often have to pay driver responsibility fees of between $500 and $1,000 in addition to their other fines and penalties.
The proposed legislation would phase out these fees over three years. “Driver responsibility fees can add up quickly, and there are many drivers who risk losing their licenses because they cannot pay the fees,” said Shaun R. Marks, a Flint drunk driving attorney. “These citizens have already paid the fines and other penalties for their offense. Then they are hit with these additional fees.”
Lawmakers and at least one judge agreed, saying that the fees are too onerous. District Court Judge William Kelly of Kentwood said that his courtroom was filled with people struggling to pay off their fees, often while unable to drive to work with suspended licenses. Kelly called the fees “double jeopardy,” saying that they were a second punishment for the same crime. He also said that the fees were a tax on the poorest people in Michigan.
Under the proposed legislation, the second year of two-year driver responsibility fees would be removed. By late 2017, the entire fee structure would be eliminated. Driver responsibility fees were introduced in 2003 in an attempt to balance the state budget.