Michigan ‘bad driver’ bills get thumbs up, down

| 12/8/2010

On the final day of the 2010 session, the Michigan Senate voted unanimously to advance to Gov. Jennifer Granholm a bill that would revise provisions permitting people ticketed with a moving violation to avoid having their insurance rates affected. A separate effort to get rid of “bad driver” fees came up short.

Michigan law now requires the Secretary of State to determine whether or not an individual is eligible to attend a basic driver improvement course. Individuals who notify the state of their intentions to take the course have 60 days to submit a certificate of successful completion before the office enters points for the violation or contacts the individual’s insurance company.

Sponsored by Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, the bill – SB1262 – would remove some of the responsibility of the offender to notify the state when the course has been completed. A sponsor of the course would be required to submit a certificate of successful completion.

Also, repeat offenders would not be eligible to take a driver improvement course for violations that occur within the 60-day period that they can take the course.

To help cover the cost of the program, a portion of the $100 course fee would be required to be sent to the state.

A separate House-approved effort affecting Michigan’s habitually bad drivers, however, didn’t gain Senate approval before the session ended. HB4098 called for repealing parts of a seven-year-old law that imposes extra fees on drivers for certain traffic offenses.

Since 2003, Michigan’s habitually bad drivers have faced fees of up to $1,000 a year to keep their driving privileges. The law is intended to crack down on repeat driving offenders and increase revenue for the state.

Part of a four-bill package, the measure sought to partially repeal the driver responsibility fee program starting in 2012.

Since the program’s passage seven years ago some lawmakers have called the program unfair. They said the penalties are too harsh, especially for low-income motorists. Even supporters of the law said they recognize it has done more harm than good. However, the revenue the fee generates for the state has made it difficult for lawmakers to get rid of it.

The issue can be reintroduced for consideration during the session that begins Jan. 13, 2011.

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

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.