12/7/2011Michigan Partially Repeals Speeding Ticket Tax
Legislature in Michigan agrees to scale back its speeding ticket tax.
Michigan has taken the first step toward repealing its tax on traffic ticket recipients. Last year, the state added $220 million worth of "driver responsibility fees" on top of existing fines for various sorts of moving violations. The legislature agreed to eliminate three separate taxes, saving 100,428 drivers $23.6 million a year. The partial repeal bill hit the desk of Governor Rick Snyder (R) yesterday. Snyder will enact the measure.
"The Drivers Responsibility Program (Public Act 165) was signed into law in 2003 by Governor Jennifer Granholm," Snyder spokesman Kevin Gardner wrote in an email. "Unfortunately, this law had many unintended consequences that unfairly harmed those people trying to be productive citizens of Michigan."
The driver responsibility program imposes a fee of $300 to $2000 on certain driving offenses, collected in two annual installments. In addition, it imposes an annual tax of $100 to $500 a year for anyone with more than seven points on his license. Drivers hit with the massive fees frequently found themselves unable to afford them. The program mandated that their license be suspended -- generating another fee. The net result was a 42 percent jump in the number of suspended licenses and a more than tenfold increase in people driving without insurance.
Beginning on October 1, 2012 the new law will eliminate the $300 tax on those convicted for driving without a license, the $400 tax for failing to produce proof of insurance and the $1000 tax on failing to obtain no-fault insurance. The existing taxes on license points and other violations remain. The National Motorists Association (NMA) argued that Michigan's speed traps are among the country's worst and that the tax on speeding ticket points needs to go.
"The Michigan House and Senate made a welcome first step to repeal some of the harsh fees instituted by the state's Driver Responsibility Act," NMA Executive Director Gary Biller told TheNewspaper. "But the legislature's work will not be done until they pass a bill to repeal the DRA in its entirety and lift the burden of harsh, excess fees from drivers in Michigan."
Yesterday, state Representative Kurt Damrow (R-Port Austin) introduced House Bill 5198 to repeal the license point tax and other fees. Michigan's legislature is moving far slower than Virginia in eliminating a similar program introduced in 2007 that generated outrage throughout the state. The Old Dominion's General Assembly had no choice but to repeal the "abuser fee" program in 2008, going so far as to offer a full refund to any driver who paid the tax.