In 2003 the Texas Legislature, while casting about for a new source of revenue, came up with the idea to create a surcharge program for those convicted of, among other crimes, Driving While Intoxicated
The law provides, essentially that a person convicted of driving while intoxicated will be required to pay a $1,000 annual surcharge for the first thrity six months following a conviction, just to maintain their driver’s license. If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent DWI, or their breath or blood test is .16 or higher the surcharge amounts are greater.
If a person can’t or won’t pay, your license will be suspended. Many in the broader public may simply shrug their shoulders and say “too bad, shouldn’t have been convicted of DWI”, but that misses the point. The DWI laws themselves already provide the potential for stiff fines that punish and deter. This surcharge program has nothing to do with punishing those who drive while intoxicated. This program is an effort to generate a government revenue stream, off an unpopular segment of society.
The program isn’t working as intended an ought to be discontinued.
I was pleased to read over the weekend on the Dallas Morning Newseditorial page, a piece advocating the elimination of these surcharges. Calling the program an “embarassment.” the News specifically urges the Legislature to “pull the plug.” Thank you, Dallas Morning News for calling attention to this.