In 2003, Michigan legislators passed the Driver Responsibility Fee (DRF) program, which was ostensibly designed to hold drivers convicted of certain types of driving offenses responsible for their crimes by applying monetary penalties that continued for extended periods of time. The program was also designed to fill a gap in the state’s budget.
The program helped fill that gap; it has generated nearly $100 million per year since its inception. However, it has also become one of the most disliked pieces of legislation in recent memory, not just because of the expense to drivers, but because of the cycle of debt that it created for many drivers who were unable to pay the fines.
“Over 300,000 people in the State of Michigan owe a collective $600 million under this program, and hundreds of thousands had their licenses suspended because of inability to pay, which kept them from jobs and perpetuated the cycle of debt,” said Patrick Barone, a Michigan DUI Attorney with the Barone Defense Firm. “With the end of this program, however, these individuals now have the opportunity to have their debts wiped clean.”
With the end of the program, drivers who currently owe funds should be aware of the following:
- The program ends on October 1, 2018. If you owe money, your obligation is forgiven, and your license can be reinstated.
- If you were making payments under a payment plan that was entered into before February 1, 2018, those fines are cleared and the balance has been forgiven.
- The $125 reinstatement fee for any drivers needing their licenses reinstated are waived for the time being.
- This relief only applies to the DRF fines – any other fines you owe remain in place.
One unfortunate point: anyone whose license has been suspended for more than four years under the program will have to take the driver’s tests – both the written and actual driving portions.
The elimination of this program is an incredibly positive step for individuals who have suffered under its debts or were facing years of financial hardship because of recently-imposed fines.