The Latest on Surcharge Amnesty

Deandra GrantAUSTIN, Texas — Texas is offering a discounted amnesty program for drivers whose licenses have been suspended and who owe fines and other surcharges, the Department of Public Safety said Tuesday. If payment is not received by April 17, the amnesty reduction is voided, all surcharge balances revert to the original owed amounts and suspensions are put back on a driver’s record, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The goal of the amnesty period is to bring drivers into compliance with the surcharge law and allow them to become licensed and insured drivers, DPS said Tuesday. About 650,000 Texans who owe traffic fines could be eligible for the 90 percent break on payment, as part of the DPS Driver Responsibility Program. The program, which assesses fees for a variety of driving-related offenses, was passed by the 2003 Legislature. Anyone with an unpaid surcharge that was assessed between Sept. 20, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2008, are eligible to take part. Other restrictions apply. DPS say service fees will still apply to the reduced amount being paid. Once the application is approved, the surcharge suspensions will be cleared on the applicant’s driving record within three business days, said DPS. Applicants will be provided the reduced amount to pay, and they can begin making payments after three business days. DPS does not have plans to offer another amnesty period, the agency said. A program to help indigent drivers will be offered after the amnesty period ends, to assist individuals who are at or below 125 percent of poverty level, in paying their surcharges.

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