On March 1, 2018, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation into law eliminating the very unpopular Driver Responsibility Fee statute where the Michigan Secretary of State imposed additional fees on Michigan drivers for specific traffic offenses. After September 30, 2018, any unpaid driver responsibility fees would be forgiven and there would no longer be any assessments. This new law will bring relief to thousands of Michigan drivers who have had their operator’s licenses suspended for years because they could not afford to pay the fees.
Under the OLD LAW, the driver responsibility fees were assessed as follows:
- For drivers that accumulated seven or more points on their driving record in a given year, they would be assessed a fee ONCE PER YEAR until that driver has less than seven points. The fee began at $100.00 for seven points and increased by $50.00 for each additional point on their record (e.g., 8 points = $150.00, 9 points = $200.00, etc.).
- For drivers that are convicted of specific offenses, they would be assessed a fee for TWO YEARS IN A ROW:
- (1) Operating While Intoxicated ($1000.00 per year for two years)
- (2) Operating While Impaired ($500.00 per year for two years)
- (3) Driving While License Suspended ($500.00 per year for two years)
- (4) No Proof of Insurance prior to October 1, 2012 ($200.00 per year for two years)
- (5) Driving With Expired Operator’s License prior to October 1, 2012 ($150.00 per year for two years).
- Failure to pay the fees in full or enter into a payment arrangement by the deadline on the Notice of Driver Responsibility Fee (Form 4134) will result in suspension of your driver’s license. The driver will be required to pay a $125.00 reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State before his or her license can be reinstated if suspended for this reason.
Under the NEW LAW, the driver’s responsibility fees will be phased out as follows:
- Beginning on October 1, 2018, the Michigan Secretary of State and the Michigan Department of Treasury can no longer collect outstanding fees, and drivers are no longer liable for unpaid fees and may have their licenses reinstated.
- Beginning on October 1, 2018, drivers who have entered into installment payment agreements to pay these fees on or before February 1, 2018 will no longer be responsible for the outstanding balance and can have their licenses reinstated as if they were in full compliance with the law.
- Drivers who are enrolled in a workforce training program will be eligible to have their license reinstated and fees waived upon completion of the program.
- No new assessments for driver responsibility fees will be issued on or after October 1, 2018.
- The $125.00 reinstatement fee will be waived for licenses suspended due to nonpayment of the responsibility fee from March 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
The driver responsibility fees came into existence in 2003 and did raise between $99 million and $115 million a year in revenue for the State of Michigan. However, as of September 2017, Michigan drivers owed a collective debt of $634 million in fees and there was little prospect that much of it would ever be paid. In fact, $304 million of this debt was older than six years. Over 300,000 Michiganders owed fees as a result and many of them had their licenses suspended for non-payment. These charges were assessed above and beyond any fines and costs imposed for the original traffic offense and the judges had absolutely no discretion to waive the driver responsibility fee. The new laws will provide much needed relief to Michigan families and allow many people to get back to work that could not find lawful transportation otherwise. The fifteen-year experiment of raising government revenue by punishing Michigan drivers with thousands of dollars in extra fees is over.
If you or a loved one has additional questions about any traffic offenses or need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.