Starting October 1, 2018, debt for unpaid Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee waived; no more suspensions; no $125 reinstatement fee through December 31st
Michigan drivers are now free from the onerous and costly Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee, which no longer exists as of October 1, 2018.
Here are the top 6 facts you need to know:
- No more Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee: Starting October 1, 2018, the fee has been eliminated.
- You don’t have to pay your outstanding fee: Drivers can no longer be forced to pay the Driver Responsibility Fee, nor can they be held liable for outstanding, unpaid fees. You don’t have to go into a Secretary of State office to fill out forms or sign anything. You can just stop paying.
- Get your driver’s license reinstated: Driver’s license suspensions based on non-payment of the driver responsibility fee are no longer valid and drivers whose privileges were suspended for this reason are eligible to have their licenses reinstated. The form you’ll need to fill out is the “Application for Driver’s License Reinstatement,” which can be found on the Michigan Secretary of State’s website or in its offices.
- Reinstatement is free before December 31, 2018: Drivers with fee-related suspensions are eligible to have their licenses reinstated – possibly without having to pay the $125 reinstatement fee if they act before December 31, 2018.
- $100 million annually: That’s how much revenue the Driver Responsibility Fee generated for the State of Michigan every year.
- 317,000 Michigan drivers (including 70,000 in Detroit) had unpaid fees: The statewide unpaid balance was $600 million. In Detroit, the outstanding balance was $100 million.
What was the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee?
For years, Driver Responsibility Fees were imposed on Michigan drivers for infractions ranging from having 7 or more points on their driving records to manslaughter, drunk and/or drugged driving and fleeing and eluding the police.
One of the goals of the fee was to hold dangerous drivers accountable for hurting people, breaking traffic laws and making the roads unsafe for driving.
Driver responsibility fee amounts ranged from $100 up to $1,000, which had to be paid in two-consecutive-year increments.
Failure to pay the fee resulted in suspension of a person’s driver’s license.
Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee Forgiveness
People no longer have to pay the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee, including outstanding fees that they haven’t yet paid:
- They can’t be ordered to pay the fee.
- They can’t be forced to pay.
- They can’t be held liable for any outstanding fees they haven’t paid.
(Sources: MCL 257.732a(10)(a)(iii), (b)(iii), (11)(a) and (b))
Reinstating your driver’s license after a Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee-related suspension
If your driver’s license was suspended for non-payment of a driver responsibility fee, here’s what you need to do to get reinstated:
- Go to the Secretary of State’s office and file the “Application for Driver’s License Reinstatement.”
- Reinstatement is FREE before December 31, 2018. (MCL 257.732a(12))
- After December 31, 2018, the reinstatement fee is $125.
- Reinstatement may be delayed if your license is suspended or revoked for other reasons and/or your license has been expired for more than 4 years.
Why was the Driver Responsibility Fee Waived?
Not only did it drastically increase the cost of driving in Michigan, as if through-the-roof car insurance prices weren’t already a big enough drain on the pocketbook, but if a driver didn’t pay his or her Driver Responsibility Fee, then his or her driving privileges would be suspended.
Many Michiganders – especially those serving as lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature – believed the driver responsibility fees heaped an even heavier burden of those drivers who were already struggling just to make ends meet.
In March 2018, the Michigan Legislature enacted laws that would quickly and permanently abolish the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee.
Why did the Department of Treasury like the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee?
One of the other goals of the Driver Responsibility Fee was its financial potential.
In particular, it raised about $100 million in annual revenue, which lawmakers could have arguably used for various under-resourced projects such fixing potholes and crumbling infrastructure.
In a 2017 House Fiscal Agency Legislative Analysis on the bills that would ultimately abolish the Driver Responsibility Fee, it was estimated that across the state there were approximately 317,000 individuals delinquent on paying their DRFs.
A March 6, 2018, Michigan Radio story, “Five things to know about the end of Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Fees,” confirmed that figure, adding that their unpaid balance came to $600 million. Additionally, Michigan Radio noted that more than $100 million was owed by the 70,000 Detroiters who had unpaid driver responsibility fees.