Editorials

Driver responsibility program a wreck

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Bedford Police Officer D. Spears clocks speeders on Texas 121/183 in 2015.
Bedford Police Officer D. Spears clocks speeders on Texas 121/183 in 2015. Star-Telegram archives

The controversial Driver Responsibility Act has been the bogeyman of Texan drivers.

Everyone makes mistakes behind the wheel, but one moving violation can lead to a hefty and confusing “surcharge” that could keep drivers off the road.

The law was passed in 2003 with the goal to make Texans better drivers and to raise money to fund trauma centers. Even though the money goes to a good cause, the program has caused much grief.

The point-based system the state adopted tacks on at least a $100 surcharge once a driver gets to six or more points. One moving violation results in two points, but some infractions cause immediate fines. Surcharges have to be paid yearly for three years, and if drivers can’t pay, their license is suspended.

The system causes a snowball effect for lower-income households. A license lost might mean a job lost.

State Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood has filed Senate Bill 90 to eliminate the program.

“The DRP has failed on every measurable front,” the bill analysis says.

Cutting the program would be mean the end of a significant trauma center funding source. It shouldn’t be done hastily.

But, as Hall said, “There is never a right reason to do the wrong thing.”

We couldn’t have said it better, but with a lean budget looms over our heads, legislators need to take a long, thorough look at a compromise.

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