Today, the Texas Department of Public Safety released proposed new rules that would make it easier for poor Texans with traffic tickets to get right with the law. Texas adopted the so-called Driver Responsibility Program in 2003. Under the program, drivers who get certain kinds of tickets have to pay huge annual surcharges to the DPS in order to keep their driver's licenses. Only what was happening was that thousands of Texans weren't paying and they were losing their licenses, winding up in already crowded courts and jails.
So, last year, lawmakers told DPS to revamp the program to make it easier for poor people to pay off the fines and stay out of the hoosegow.
DPS has been working on new rules, and here's the proposal they published today:
· Set DRP indigency at 125% of the poverty level.
· Allow electronic application online or by telephone.
· Require applicants to submit supporting documentation.
· Allow the Department to contract with a third party for application verification.
· Mandate a letter of approval or denial be mailed to any applicant.
· Provide applicants 90 days to pay the reduced fee, in full, and provide proof of insurance.
According to the press release, the DPS will take comments on the proposal for 30 days, and then the DPS Commission will hold a public hearing on the rules "at a later date."