2/20/2018Michigan Repeals Speeding Ticket Tax
Michigan repeals driver responsibility program and forgives all outstanding debt.
After 15 years Michigan lawmakers decided to pull the plug on the Driver Responsibility Program that imposes massive fees on traffic ticket recipients. Under the measure that cleared the state Senate and House unanimously last week, collections for the up-to $1000 a year tax on tickets would end on September 30.
Each year sending 200,000 drivers receive a "driver responsibility" bill in the mail, totaling $106 million statewide. Governor Rick Snyder (R) has agreed to sign the bill into law. In 2011, he supported legislation that slashed the amount of the fees that have been in place since 2004. Snyder also signed a bill that would have phased out the fees by 2019, but now they will end a full year earlier.
Under the program, those who accumulate 7 points on their license are billed $100 a year, plus $50 for each additional point. The most common violations under the program turned out to be driving without proof of insurance and driving with a suspended license. Proponents of eliminating the tax pointed to this to argue the program created a vicious cycle.
"Although driver responsibility fees originally were promoted as a way to increase traffic safety and save lives, the fees are a tax upon a fine and amount to double punishment," the Senate's official analysis of the legislation explained. "When someone is assessed a driver responsibility fee and cannot afford to pay it, and therefore loses his or her driver license, that person may have no way to get to and from his or her job, to a training program or an interview, or to classes. This in turn prevents the person from earning income that would help pay the fee."
The 317,000 drivers who have failed to make their fee payments will have their debt forgiven on September 30. On average, they owe $1900 each, for a total of $630 million. The debtors would regain their right to drive, though they will have to pay a $125 fee to get their license back. The Senate analysts believe the state will lose $20 million as drivers who receive traffic tickets between now and October 1 will just not pay the fees and have the debt forgiven.
Michigan's move leaves New Jersey, New York and Texas as the only states with speeding ticket taxes. Virginia repealed its unpopular program in 2008 after less than a year.
A copy of the bill is available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.