*2019 Update: Surcharges have been repealed*
Texas Transportation Code Chapter 708 allows Texas to collect surcharges for offenses including DWIs. A surcharge is an administrative fee that is charged based on convictions reported to a person’s driving record.
For example, common surcharges for DWIs are:
|DWI||$1,000/year for 3 years|
|DWI Misdemeanor Repetition||$1,500/year for 3 years|
|DWI Felony Repetition||$1,500/year for 3 years|
|DWI BAC >/= .15||$2,000/year for 3 years|
The Texas Department of Public Safety requires the payment of surcharges as a result of a variety of different events, including certain convictions for drug offenses and DWI offenses in Texas. Many drivers who find themselves drowning under DPS surcharges wonder if they can ever get out. There seems to be a cycle which begins by a driver being unable to afford to maintain auto insurance which gains momentum with citations and fines are assessed for driving without a license. Mistakenly, some could believe that if their driver’s license is suspended, there also becomes no need to take care of traffic tickets which have transitioned into active warrants. Before a person has a chance to assess the gravity of their driver’s license pit, they discover that they owe thousands of dollars to DPS and local municipal courts.
In order to pay driver’s license surcharges and regain eligibility to drive, you must not have any active traffic warrants, and at least be in repayment on any previously unpaid citations. Once you are in good standing financially on past violations, you can begin to assess the amount due to DPS to reinstate your license.
The amount owed will vary based on the type and quantity of offenses on your driving record. If you desire to regain your driving privilege, but cannot afford to pay your surcharges, there may be help available.
There are currently two programs designed to get Texans driving again. The first is referred to as the Texas DPS Driver Responsibility Surcharge Indigence Program. Individuals who are living at or below 125% of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply. For approved applicants, surcharges will be reduced to 10% of the total amount assessed. The total amount due will not exceed $250 although service fees apply.
|Persons in Family||125% of Poverty Line (2015)|
The second surcharge assistance program is referred to as the Incentive Program. Individuals who are living above 125% but are below 300% federal poverty level. For approved applicants, the surcharge fees will be reduced by 50% of the total amount assessed although service fees apply.
|Persons in Family||300% of Poverty Line (2015)|
Poverty Guidelines provided by: Federal Register, January 22, 2015 www.federalregister.gov
If a driver is approved under either program, they have six months to pay the reduced surcharges. An added benefit is that surcharge suspensions are lifted during the payment period. Be aware though that if all of the fees are not paid within six months your license will be suspended again until you have paid in full as agreed.
If you are would like to apply for a surcharge fee reduction, consider the following:
You can look up your account, and apply for the Indigence Program here:
We hope you found this information helpful. If you were recently arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony, or need a Fort Worth DWI Lawyer give us a call today at (817) 203-2220 or reach out online.