The Texas Department of Public Safety is now offering an Indigency Program for surcharges owed under the Driver Responsibility Program. The Texas Legislature authorized an Indigency program to provide low-income drivers the ability to pay surcharges, bringing them into compliance with the surcharge law and allowing them to become licensed and insured drivers.
The Indigency Program applies only to individuals living at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (see chart below). The Indigency Program reduction does not apply to any other fees besides surcharges that a driver may owe DPS.
Those qualifying for the Indigency Program will pay 10 percent of the original amount owed for all surcharges combined, for a maximum amount of $250. (Service fees will still apply.) Any payments already made will be applied to the reduced amount. If prior payments are more than the reduced amount owed, no payment will be required. There will be no refunds for payments that exceed the indigency maximum.
To request a reduction, drivers must complete the application in full, and the application must be notarized. The completed, notarized application should be mailed to the Municipal Services Bureau (PO Box 16733, Austin, Texas 78761-6733) for processing.
The Indigency Program application is available online by visiting www.txsurchargeonline.com or calling the toll-free number 1-800-688-6882 and selecting option 7. Easy-to-read instructions are also included with the application. Note: the online application requires ‘Adobe Reader’ to open the document, which can be downloaded at www.adobe.com.
Once the application is approved, any surcharge suspensions will be cleared on the applicant’s driving record within three business days. Applicants will be mailed a notice with the reduced amount to pay and the due date. Payment of the reduced amount and other fees that are owed must be received within 180 days from the date of the notice. If payment of the reduced amount is not received by the due date, the suspension of driving privileges will be reinstated. However, the reduced amount will still apply until it is paid in full.
The Driver Responsibility Program, which assesses fees for a variety of driving-related offenses, was passed by the Legislature in 2003 and directed the Department to administer the program. Traffic offenses that carry an automatic surcharge for three years include DWI-related offenses, driving with no insurance, driving while license suspended, driving without a license and accumulating too many points because of tickets. (For example, the fee for a first-time DWI offender is $1,000 per year for three years.) The revenue generated by DRP goes to trauma centers, emergency medical services and the General Revenue Fund.