Changes sought to ‘bad driver’ fees in Michigan

| 11/13/2007

An effort in the Michigan House seeks to modify the Drivers’ Responsibility Law. The law tacks on additional fees for drivers who have certain traffic violations and point accumulations to keep their driving privileges.                          

Since it took effect in fall 2003, the state has collected more than $230 million from the “bad driver” fees. The revenue is funneled to the state’s general fund.

Sponsored by Rep. Bettie Cook Scott, D-Detroit, the bill is intended to lessen the blow for drivers who are cited for certain driving violations.

Advocates for changing the law say the extra fees are devastating to poor and working class drivers. Others say the fines are unconstitutional.

Violations that include drunken driving, fleeing a wreck, and causing injury or death to workers in a construction zone can result in $1,000 fees assessed each year for two years. The bill would replace the two-year fee with a $1,500 one-time fee. It also would provide more lenient arrangements for payment.

A separate provision would charge a $500 one-time fee for driving with a suspended or revoked license or registration certificate. Michigan law now applies a $500 two-year fee.

Driver responsibility fees for other specific qualifying offenses would remain the same. However, they also would become one-time fees rather than be assessed in each of two consecutive years.

The bill – HB4665 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor