DPS & Fee Amnesty: Great Deal No One Knows About

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The Department of Public Safety is offering an amnesty deal for people whose licenses have been suspended for failing to pay certain fees, but most people don't know about it.

Until April, drivers who've lost their license for falling behind on the Driver Responsibility surcharges that come in the wake of DWI or other offenses can get clear by paying only 10 percent of the charges they owe, up to a maximum of $250.

Trouble is, DPS says it doesn't have the budget to notify the 650,000 or so people reportedly eligible for the program.

The excellent criminal-justice blog Grits for Breakfast is trying to get as much publicity for the amnesty as possible.

"It'd be a shame if participation rates were low because word just never gets out about the program," they write.

The purpose of the amnesty, DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange told the Waco Tribune Herald, is to get affected drivers back to being productive.

"We want them to become legal, licensed drivers," Mange said. "It's important for people to be licensed and to be able to purchase insurance because we all have to drive with them."

There are some strings attached, so check out the Web site we've linked to above.

Update: DPS's Mange tells Hair Balls the program is getting a soft rollout this week, with a formal press release going out next week.

The surcharges, which are assessed annually for a maximum of three years, range from $150 for having too many tickets in a specified period of time to $2,000 for heavy-duty DWI.

She says the 650,000 people eligible often have numerous surcharges; about three million such surcharges have been assessed against those eligible.

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