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Public Safety Commission approves Driver Responsibility Program changes

 The Texas Public Safety Commission approved proposed changes to the Driver Responsibility Program rules during their meeting Thursday. The changes will be published for public comment in the Texas Register and then be presented for adoption by the Commission, probably at the September meeting. 

The proposed amnesty program:

  • Will apply to individuals who have been in default, and the Department will determine the time in default for each amnesty period
  • Reduced amount will be 10 percent of total surcharges owed, not to exceed $250
  • Will rescind suspension for those who receive amnesty while payments are being made 

The proposed indigency program:

  • Will apply to individuals at or below 125 percent of poverty level, or with a debt-to-income ratio of at least 50 percent, using a sworn affidavit
  • Reduced amount will be 10 percent of total surcharges owed, not to exceed $250
  • Will rescind suspension for those who receive indigency while payments are being made 

The proposed incentive program:

  • Individuals will pay a reduced amount if all three years are paid in full
  • Reduced to 50 percent of what’s owed if paid within 30 days after notice
  • Reduced to 60 percent if paid within 60 days after notice
  • Reduced to 70 percent if paid within 90 days after notice 

       OR 

Reduced payments for continued compliance

  • First year, pay 100 percent
  • Second year, reduced by 50 percent
  • Third year, reduced by 75 percent 

If approved, the programs would be phased in over several months:

  • The Amnesty program would be implemented during tax season
  • The Indigency program would be implemented immediately after Amnesty, which will allow for better fiscal analysis
  • The Incentive program would be evaluated for implementation 

(The Driver Responsibility law, passed during the 78th Texas Legislative session, established a system to assess surcharges based on certain traffic offenses that occurred on or after September 1, 2003.  The 81st Texas Legislature amended the law to require a reduction for indigent individuals.) 

In other business, the Commission:

  • Named DPS General Counsel Stuart Platt as the interim Inspector General for the agency. The commission will initiate a nationwide search for a permanent Inspector General.
  • Approved spending $10 million in bonds for repairs and renovations to DPS buildings across the state
  • Approved accepting the donation of a radio tower from Colorado County. The radio tower is built on land already owned by DPS. 

Also,

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security presented certificates of appreciation to a DPS employee and an Austin Police Department Lieutenant for their assistance in February when a man intentionally crashed his airplane into the IRS offices in the Echelon Building in Northwest Austin.  Bart R. Johnson, principal deputy under secretary for intelligence and analysis for the Department of Homeland Security, presented the certificates to Lt. Mark Spangler and Patricia Nunez, who provided critical information about the incident and the man who crashed his plane into the building. Spangler is the director for the Austin Regional Intelligence Center. Nunez is a DPS supervisory intelligence analyst for the Texas Fusion Center.

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