Michigan’s driver responsibility fees (DRF) started when the legislature amended Michigan’s drunk driving laws so as to bring Michigan into compliance with the federal .08 standard. This occurred in 2003. Since that time drivers who did not pay their fees would have their operator’s license suspended. For crimes like drunk driving, the fees were as high as $1,000.00 per year for two years. Because of this, the law was really very draconian as applied, and was particularly unfair for low-income drivers.
The essential problem was this, according to the law; the Secretary of State “shall send notice of the driver responsibility assessment to the individual informing them of the fee.” The fee must then be paid within 30 days of the notice, or a second notice will be sent. If the fee is not paid within 30 days of the second notice, then the driver’s driving privileges will be suspended by the Secretary of State.
There was the additional but similar problem of what would happen to a person’s eligibility to request a driver license restoration hearing with the DAAD. Such hearings are required to regain driving privileges after a driver license is revoked for two or more drunk driving convictions.
Previously, if that driver’s license had been suspended for non-payment of the DRF, then they could not request a restoration hearing. Now, if someone is suspended for non-payment of DRF’s, and also revoked because of multiple drunk driving convictions, once the client enters into a payment arrangement under the new law, they are then immediately eligible for a DAAD hearing.
According to the amended driver responsibility fee law, a person may have their license reinstated by entering into a payment arrangement with the Secretary of State, and may now have as much as 24 months to make total payment.
Here is the text from a Memo sent out from Michigan’s Secretary of State:
Public Act 460 of 2008, effective April 1, 2009, amends the Michigan Vehicle Code 257.732a to allow for reinstatement of a driver’s license that has been suspended solely due to a failure to pay Driver Responsibility Fees (DRF) when a driver establishes a payment plan to pay driver responsibility fees and makes proper payments under the plan.
The bill also amends current provisions regarding installment plans to allow an installment plan for any amount owed for up to 24 months and would allow the driver license reinstatement fee of $125 to be included in the payment plan, at the individual’s request, along with the driver responsibility fees owed.
- The new law allows for a 24 month payment arrangement (previously the law allowed for 12 months only.) The installment agreement (IA) can only be on the current year
- assessment that has been given an assessment number. This means a driver has two years to pay, but only the first year has been assessed and is covered by the installment agreement. The person will also have to call Department of Treasury to set up an IA for the second year assessment once they receive notification of the second year assessment. In other words, the second year assessment will not automatically be rolled over into the payment plan for the first year assessment.
- The law allows a payment arrangement for any amount (previously it was for $500.00 or more only).
- If a driver’s license is suspended for failure to pay the Driver Responsibility Fee, the new law allows a driver to make installment arrangements with Department of Treasury, which will allow Secretary of State to terminate the DRF suspension and reinstatement of driving privileges.
- If a person’s license is suspended, revoked or denied for reasons other than non-payment of the Driver Responsibility Fee, including any outstanding suspensions, such as an open FAC/FCJ, the Driver Responsibility Fee suspension will not be terminated.
- The law allows the driver to request the Secretary of State $125.00 reinstatement fee to be included in the payment arrangement.
- If a person fails to include the reinstatement fee in their payment arrangement, a letter will be sent to the person advising them they will need to pay the $125.00 at a Secretary of State Branch office for reinstatement of driving privileges.
- All drivers that establish a payment arrangement under the amended law seeking to restore driving privileges after a DRF suspension will receive a letter advising them of their driving privilege status.
- If a person should default on the installment agreement, their driving privileges will be re-suspended and a reinstatement fee requirement will be added to their driving record. The Secretary of State shall only reinstate a license once per DRF assessment.
For a detailed description of the pre-amendment law, along with a detailed listing of the amounts of the driver responsibility fees for various offenses, please go to http://www.mid3.net/quicklinks/baddriver.php.