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Updated Tuesday, May 24, 2011 9:16 PM

Indigency program offered for unlicensed Texas drivers



The Texas Department of Public Safety is offering help for low-income drivers who must pay surcharges to have their Texas drivers licenses restored.

The indigency program is for surcharges owed under the Driver Responsibility Program, said Texas DPS Trooper Mark Tackett. Surcharges are added to fines such as driving without a license or driving while intoxicated. The Texas Legislature authorized the 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.

Tackett said it applies only people living at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The indigency program reduction does not apply to any other fees besides surcharges that a driver may owe DPS.

To qualify, a person living in a family of one must make $13,613 or less to qualify, and that increases proportionally until it reaches a family of eight living with an income of $47,038 or less. Those qualifying will pay 10 percent of the original amount owed for all surcharges combined, for a maximum amount of $250. Service fees will still apply, Tackett said. 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, P.O. Box 16733, Austin, TX 78761-6733 for processing.

The Indigency Program application is available online by visiting or calling the toll-free number 1-800-688-6882 and selecting option 7.

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 DPS to administer. Traffic offenses that carry an automatic surcharge for three years include DWI-related offenses, driving with no insurance, driving with a suspended license, driving without a license, and accumulating too many points because of tickets. The revenue generated the from the program goes to trauma centers, emergency medical services and the General Revenue Fund, Tackett said.

Comments ... 28 found!

indigent : 9/25/2011
we are all entitled to our own OPINIONS,YES,however i unfortunately and regretfully fall into this indigent category,a young irresponsible driver, failure to pay my traffic violations, a now single parent of four lovely kids,and struggling to send them to school and still make it to work on rides because i cannot afford to pay all the voliations which have trippled over the years, i have a high school diploma and have been to college, and yet all i earn is a meager 7.25, well 7.40 an hour now that i got my yearly raise!whoopie!The stress and depression that all the fines have caused me make me wonder if this really is a "free" country or am i really locked up with no key to let me out? If I had the guidance to know better then ,what I now know, I promiss you I would have never,Free ride na not looking for it, I pay taxes too and work my fingers to the bone, probably a lot harder than those making 200k a year,all i want to know is how can i repay all that I owe to get back on the road when all I make ,(take home pay)is 850.00 a month.Find a higher paying job you say?should I do that on one of my two ten minute breaks or on my thirty minute lunch, how about after my thirteen hour shift?or inbetween helpin my kid with his homework, so he might have a chance at a better life than mine?all you people ever think about is your selves and what other expensive toys you could buy with your credit cards and high paying jobs,hate to say it, but am i playing the race card,maybe,if the shoe fits,what about programs like probationary periods and payment plans,to help those out who need to get back on the road to make it to work on time and send their kid to school,we have all made bad choices in our lives,i dont care how much money you make now, but you know who you are,i dont beleive yor 200k exempts you from making a bad or irresponsible choice in your life ever,SOME people do deserve a second chance, and for those who dont I have nothing to say on your behalf,all i can say is that i beleive this country was born of free men and women, all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,will we one day be debt free?will we ever get the monkey off our back ?it may not be religous persecution, but its some kind of persecution, so to all those who have cast thier stones, i say to you that i would never wish any kind of hardship on you , because then you will know what it is to suffer and to long and to want and to dread a mere crumb.

locked up with out a key

Indigency program : 9/13/2011
A thought inspired by some of these comments; You never know what a person's life is like until you walk a mile in their shoes. Everyone deserves a second chance, if you don't think so now, you will when you need one. Judge no lest ye be judged.

The voice of reason

I dont believe this is another handout : 6/21/2011
It kills me to read these comments. I pay my surcharges on a monthly basis...dont want to...but hey...I made a mistake (DWI). I dont spend all my money on booze and cigarettes. I make decent money but struggle to pay this "poor tax". I mean we have to pay up the a** for attorney fees....fines...court costs...probation fees...etc. Do I need to be surprised about an additional 3k the state wants to rape me over? Not really! Especially a state that doesnt have a good public transportation system.
There is no need for them...the money isnt going where they say its suppose to be going....its not going to the trauma centers....its mainly going to the general revenue accounts. MSB is a private corporation thats running the program...isnt the state suppose to run this program?? That disturbs me.


indugency : 6/20/2011
hi, im glad to recieve help..i am indugent and am glad there is help for people like me

joey w.

It never ends : 6/6/2011
Actually, Sneaky Pete, I said no such thing. Apparently you cannot read or have the proclivity to make up whatever sounds good to you. Intersting moniker there by the way, Sneaky Pete. Could it be well deserved? Of course, Donny is another one of your ilk. I said nothing in support of this program. Nothing at all, but Donny with his pigheaded attitude credits me with having done so. No Donny, this thing comes out Austin. You know, our Republican controlled state government. If you don't like this program, at least have the stones to go after those who are in control of it, instead of blubbering nonsense about someone who has never once said anything in support of it. BTW, I don't see any posts from Miguel on this topic at all, and I find no indication that Obama was involved in formulating this policy either. You are a remarkable individual Donny. Just make up crap, throw it, and hope it sticks. What a dolt. BTW Donny, did you hear the latest one about Paul Revere...?


Forrest : 6/6/2011
You are right. It's too bad that people like Joey, Miguel, and Obummer just want to enable these people instead of holding them responsible and accoutable for their own actions. Just more of the typical liberal bull where everyone is the same, everyone is a winner, no one is a loser, etc. If there dream is achieved, America will be another third-world country but hey, we will all be the same except for the elite (of which I'm sure they consider themselves a part of).


Indigency Program : 6/5/2011
They can afford vehicles,gasoline,cigarettes,cocaine and alcohol but not a drivers license,insurance nor even pay for their own attorneys after they kill other human beings?

Forrest Forrest Gump

: 6/4/2011
JOey, so, are you saying you normally like men standing behind you? I guess that's your perogative. Not for me though......

Sneaky Pete

Actually, Twisted : 6/2/2011
I pride myself in never having allowed Rick Perry to stand behind me. However, it is apparent you don't mind at all.


Exempting the Poor : 6/2/2011
So, basically we are exempting the poor from having to follow the same laws and penalties as everyone else, right? Or at least waiving their penalties when everyone else has to pay for theirs. This is pathetic. This is nothing more than the government basically saying to the people "if you have it, we want it". Isn't there a word for that?

Gimme Some More Please

Joey : 5/30/2011
Joey you are a commonsense marvel. Where is the check for Rick Malicious Perry. I feel another attack coming on as his budget just molested every old person an school kid in Texas


Texas Dps : 5/30/2011
They outta change their names to the Texas Department of Public Communism. Just because I make nearly 200K doesn't mean that I couldn't' use an occasional break. I pay taxes in three states!


indigent drivers : 5/29/2011
Are we living in San Francisco now? This just might be the most idiotic plan the state has ever devised. Did they ever stop to think that maybe the reason they are indigent is that they constantly make poor decisions? I am not against poor people. I am against irresposibility!


HMMM : 5/27/2011
Joey, You must have the hots for Rick Perry. He is on your mind way toooo much.


indigency program : 5/27/2011
beat up on the rich again. indingents need to go to the nearest attorney i am sure those rich s.o.b's would do it Pro Bono because they care so much for the poor. B.S. just a damn vote


Hmmm : 5/27/2011
I think every Texan should receive a subsidy for just having to stomach Rick Perry


: 5/27/2011
Could this explain why my insurance has gone up and I have had no accidents or tickets and I am with the same company for a long while now.

insured driver

Have Responsibility : 5/27/2011
"Have mercy", if I quit my job will you let me come by, borrow your car, get drunk, wreck it and leave you with all the bills? I promise to be poor when I do it...

Driving Mercys Car

Have Mercy : 5/26/2011
TAPS was almost stopped, now the self righteous balk at a program to help low income individuals get and keep their license???
HA! you all will be the first ones hollering lazy and no good if they just stayed home.

roll eyes

Say what? : 5/26/2011
Far too many of you posters seem to forget that driving on public roads is PRIVILEGE that comes with a cost. It is NOT a right and never will be. There are valid reasons to revoke that PRIVILEGE. You really want multiple DUI offenders back on the road? you want to trust your teenager's life to a person who has previously exhibited an inability to NOT drink and drive? You really want someone without insurance for you (liability) to total your vehicle? You think a person who can't afford to pay for their mistakes (tickets) will pay for your injuries if they hit you? Not me. Let them walk...

PassinU OndaLeft

those who think they know : 5/26/2011
Dont be so quick to judge.Losing your license is more of a hardship on families than what is warranted ,in some cases people change the instance that they received the ticket. It can have more consequence than that which is fair. Think about how you would want to be treated. Shesh what's wrong with everyone these days.

in the know

Indigency Program : 5/26/2011
Long Tall Texan: I agree. The lower income class of the economy is hit the hardest when it comes to traffic fines. They are the most likely to not have insurance and the State in it's infinite wisdom continues to raise fine amounts to the extent that the average citizen working for minimum wage can't pay. And most of the Municipal Courts will not allow you to preform community service in lieu of paying the fine anymore. And most of us think these people have lost their license for DWI's. Not true. The majority lose their license for no insurance tickets or for having too many tickets in a 36 month period on their driving record. Texas uses a point system. When you get 6 points on your license it is suspended and you have to pay a surcharge to get it reinstated. Texas will also suspended your license if you get an out of state ticket and do not pay it. Example: Get a ticket in Oklahoma and fail to show up in court and your Texas license will be suspended until the Oklahoma fine is paid. Something needs to be done to address this issue but I fear "Big Brother" has no intention of doing anything that will lower his income or living standard.

John Q

Indigency program : 5/26/2011
To Informed non slave:
Now that you have posted all the court decisions you can find from the 40's and 50's why don't you read the Texas transportation code? I took the liberty of posting it for you. Enjoy (:
Texas Transportation Code
Sec. 521.021. LICENSE REQUIRED. A person, other than a person expressly exempted under this chapter, may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway in this state unless the person holds a driver's license issued under this chapter.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Sec. 521.025. LICENSE TO BE CARRIED AND EXHIBITED ON DEMAND; CRIMINAL PENALTY. (a) A person required to hold a License under Section 521.021 shall:
(1) have in the person's possession while operating a motor vehicle the class of driver’s license appropriate for the type of vehicle operated; and
(2) display the license on the demand of a magistrate, court officer, or peace officer.
(b) A peace officer may stop and detain a person operating a motor vehicle to determine if the person has a driver’s license as required by this section.
(c) A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200, except that:
(1) for a second conviction within one year after the date of the first conviction, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200; and
(2) for a third or subsequent conviction within one year after the date of the second conviction the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by:
(A) a fine of not less than $25 or more than $500;
(B) confinement in the county jail for not less than 72 hours or more than six months; or
(C) both the fine and confinement.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section if the person charged produces in court a driver’s license:
(1) issued to that person;
(2) appropriate for the type of vehicle operated; and
(3) valid at the time of the arrest for the offense.
(e) The judge of each court shall report promptly to the department each conviction obtained in the court under this section.
(f) The court may assess a defendant an administrative fee not to exceed $10 if a charge under this section is dismissed because of the defense listed under Subsection (d).
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Amended by: Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1027, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2007.

John Q

Indigency program : 5/26/2011
For all you know-it-alls & genuiasses...there is such a thing as someone not having a large income. I know of a person that qualifies for this program. They received a ticket for driving without a license. They were stopped due to their rear license plate light had burned out, which lights burn out all the time & at anytime. They weren't ticketed for the light. They hadn't forgotten how to drive, they merely couldn't afford to renew their license & have yet to pay their surcharges because they don't have the bucks to pay. Donny~what makes you think a low income person does not struggle to pay their bills & that all low income folks spend all their money on beer & cigarettes? It sounds to me that you are just bitter about something & want to blame others for it. Donny, you owe more because you make more, thus you spend more. Open your eyes folks. This surcharge program is not a punishment, it is a revenue generating program for the state. Many states have had this in effect for many years prior to Texas enacting it. I'm also against illegal immigrants acquiring drivers licenses. As the article clearly states, there is a form to complete & then the applicant must be approved, so this is not a gimme.


Why do we need a license anyway? : 5/25/2011
We didn't need one in the past. We don't need one now! All licensing is really, is just a revenue source and control over citizens anyway! Just like a CHL!


Get Informed : 5/25/2011
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has already ruled six times that there is no such thing as a Drivers License known to Texas law. These six cases have never been Reversed, never been Overturned and have never been Withdrawn, which are the ONLY three conditions that can make them invalid. Those six cases are:
W. Lee Hassell v Texas, 149 Tex. Crim. 333 and 194 S.W. 2d 400, 401 (May, 1946) which states,
“There being no such license as a “driver’s license known to the law, it follows that the information in charging the driving of a motor vehicle without such a license, charges no offense”.
Holloway v State, 237 S.W. 2d 303, 304, (March, 1951) states,
“In Hassell v State, an information alleging that the defendant operated a motor vehicle upon a public highway without a “drivers license” was held insufficient to charge an offense since a drivers license is not known to the law.”
Hines v State, 248 S.W. 2d 156, (April, 1952) states,
“In [the Holloway] case, the complaint charged that he had a “Driver’s License revoked. We held that there is no such license provided for in the statute and, therefore, there was no allegation that he was a licensee.”
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals apparently got so frustrated in having cases appealed to their court referencing the allegation of driving without a drivers license, that they singled out the ruling in Claude D. Campbell v Texas, 160 Tex. Crim 627, 274 S.W. 2d 401, (Jan. 1955) in its own cite note #3, that
“There is in Texas no such license as a “driver’s license”.
Keith Brooks v State, 158 Tex. Crim. 546: 258 S.W. 2d 317“, states,
“Information charging defendant with driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway while his “driver’s license” was suspended, charged no offense. In Hassell v State, we said: There being no such license as a ‘drivers license known to the law, it follows that the information in charging the driving of a motor vehicle upon a public highway without such a license, charges no offense. See also Holloway v State, Texas Cr. App 237 S.W. 2d 393. Because the information fails to charge an offense, the judgment is reversed and the prosecution ordered dismissed. Opinion approved by the court.”
Finally, Frank John Callas v State, 167 Tex. Crim. 375; 320 S. W. 2d 360 states,
“This court has held that “there is no such license known to Texas Law as a driver’s license”.
These cases are unoverturned, not withdrawn, nor reversed, and they have been fully Shepardized.
I therefore cannot possess an item that the Texas Supreme Court has already ruled SIX TIMES, does not exist.

Informed non-slave

Awesome - Another Handout : 5/25/2011
It's comforting to know that low income people who lose their licenses due to driving drunk or whatever can get fees waived to have them restored. That's heartwarming. If you work though and struggle to pay your bills, you get no break. This is good for the low income though - this way they don't have to waste their beer and cigarette money on these pesky fees!


Indigency Program : 5/25/2011
This Program sounds like a good way to put Drivers back on the road that have a lot of issues. Let's not forget also a good way to help illegal immigrants gain a licence in the state of Texas. Does proof of immigration status part of this program? Anyone who has a lot of tickets should not be assisted to get back on the road again. Sorry, but I think this is one of those programs that should have a second look as to whether it is appropriate or not. I guess the key to this program is where it states "Low Income" which I could agree with but when you start throwing in lots of tickets, DWI, and possibly illegal immigrants (story doesn't state but when you talk about low income?) I have to wonder about the merits of this program and who should actually be receiving any assistance.

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