PROOS: Punitive driver responsibility fees to be eliminated

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Michigan’s driver responsibility fees are an unfair double penalty that makes it difficult for many residents who have made a mistake to regain their license and get back to work.

I was proud to support bipartisan legislation — that is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed — to finally eliminate these over-the-top fees and give relief to thousands of Michigan residents struggling to provide for their families.

Senate Bills 613 and 625 and House Bills 5040, 5041, 5043, 5044, 5046 and 5079 would end the assessment of new DRFs and forgive any outstanding fees as of Oct. 1.

The bills would also enable drivers who cannot pay their fees prior to Oct. 1 to get their license back immediately by paying off the DRFs through a workforce training program.

Driver responsibility fees unfairly punish Michigan drivers for violations that have already been penalized. The result has been an enormous negative impact on working families and our economy.

Many Southwest Michigan residents lost their driver’s license — and often their job — because they could not afford to pay the fees and Michigan businesses are being impacted because the fees are artificially limiting the availability of skilled workers.

In addition to hurting workers and employers, the vast majority of the fees owed in Michigan will never be collected because low-income drivers will never be able to pay them.

It is time to turn the page on this chapter of the Granholm era and help affected residents get back to work. It is the right thing to do.

This proactive solution was passed unanimously by both legislative chambers, and I look forward to seeing the governor sign the legislation into law — ending this punitive policy and providing relief and options to affected drivers.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.