Driving dirty? Clean it up on the cheap

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

SMITH COUNTY, TEXAS (KLTV) - Under state law, first-time DWI offenders could face up to $1,000 each year, for three years in surcharges.

Automatic three-year surcharges are also assessed for driving without insurance and driving without a license.

Antonio De Los Santos said his uncle is on an surcharge installment plan for a DWI offense. "He got caught doing it, so he's going to have to pay it," he said.

Under the Driver Responsibility Program, or DRP Amnesty Program, violations have to have been assessed between September 30th, 2004 and December 31, 2008. The surcharges must be in default before the amnesty period begins.

Those who qualify will pay 10 percent of the combined amount they owe, for a maximum amount of $250.

"This applies to a very narrow demographic of people," said Trooper Jean Dark with the Department of Public Safety.

Dark said the Amnesty Program benefits all of us. Revenue collected from the surcharges goes to trauma centers and emergency medical services.

But DPS officials tell us the state has only collected about 40 percent of what's owed to them. More than $600 million is remains uncollected since lawmakers enacted the program in 2003.

Tela Mange with DPS said the goal of the Amnesty Program isn't just to collect fees. "We want them to get their driver licenses back," she said. "If they're driving right now, and they don't have a license, they're unable to purchase insurance which is going to be a problem if they run into someone."

Click here to see if you're eligible for the DRP Amnesty Program.

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