Michigan Legislation to Forgive Driver Responsibility Fees
Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law last week that is forgiving some Michigan drivers' driver-responsibility fees. Furthermore, Michigan courts are starting to have unfavorable responses to automated ticket machines that automatically issue speeding and red-light tickets.
To create funds for state infrastructure and firefighting, Michigan governments enacted responsibility fees in 2003. The fees were required on top of traditional traffic fees and were used to promote traffic safety. However, with 218 million people in the U.S. having driver's licenses in 2015, the most common reported violations were driving without insurance or with a suspended license.
While this program has been in place for almost 15 years, when the state Senate evaluated the program the fees were found to be "a tax upon a fine and amount to double punishment.”
With more than 660,000 drivers using electronic devices at any given daylight moment in the U.S., more states are cracking down on stricter driving laws. However, after annual feels reached thousands of dollars, there were partially reduced in 2011. The program is now set to end on October 1.
The fees are reviewed for certain offenses in addition to traditional traffic tickets and fines. Because of the heavy burden these additional fees put on Michigan families, there has been immense pushback from both residents and government officials. After signing a law in 2014 to begin phasing out the fees, Snyder had resisted the forgiveness plan due to the potential burden on the state budget.
This new law could offer relief for over 300,000 drivers, with a combined $637 million in outstanding fees as of this past summer. As part of a $176 million tax cut bill, the governor agreed to the deal with the legislative leaders.
“I have long opposed these fees and worked with the Legislature since taking office to phase them out,” Snyder said in a statement. “I’m pleased we found a solution that eliminates them without creating new state debt and helps remove barriers to work for more Michiganders.”
This law is expected to cost the state about $82.2 million in lost income throughout the next four years.
Seeing as how there were over 30,000 fatal car accidents in the U.S. in 2014 alone, Michigan was one of many states who created programs to try to decrease irresponsible driving. But those who opposed the program, like House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt, said it was actually “nothing more than a money grab to balance the budget.”
Under the new law, the Department of Treasury will no longer collect outstanding fees after September 30, 2018. Additionally, drivers will no longer be liable for any outstanding fees and will have their licenses reinstated. Those who entered into an installment agreement in order to pay their fees on or before February 1, 2018 will no longer have to pay their outstanding fees. And until December 31, 2018, the $125 fine to have a license reinstated will be waived.
According to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the fee forgiveness law "will remove a barrier to work for more than 70,000 Detroiters.”
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