Steep Fines Hit Area Motorists in the Pocketbook

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Area motorists are now facing some steep fines after an old piece of legislation gains momentum.

The Driver Responsibility Program was established in 2003 and assesses points and fees to drivers for a variety of moving violations.

Renewing your driver's license could now be more expensive thanks to unpaid surcharges piling up from the program.

"If I get a ticket for speeding, then I'll get two points for that," DPS Trooper Eddie Carmon said. "If I get a ticket for a traffic crash, I get three points for that. Once I have amassed six points, then I am charged $100 per year for three years for every point I have over six."

Unpaid fines will result in your license being revoked, and DPS officials say many people don't know the fines or point system even exist until they renew their license.

"I guess its OK for speeders out there, but it's nice to be aware of it. I've never heard of that type of thing," Brazos County resident David Gutierrez said.

"Well, I'm sure glad my daughter isn't going to school down here anymore," Carol Graalum joked.

"I think they need to get the word out, definitely," Reuben Grasse said.

The way the program works is letters are sent out to affected motorists letting them know about the fine. They then have 30 days after the notices are sent to pay the fine or make arrangements.

One of the main problems has been people moving and not changing their address with DPS, so they're simply not getting the notice in the mail. If you get pulled over and have some of these unpaid fines, you could be headed straight to jail.

"We have five or 10 people a day that we will stop out of 20 to 25 contacts, Carmon said. "There's probably five, six, seven of those people that have these surcharges due that we arrest for driving while license invalid."

DPS says though the program has been around for several years, some initial glitches in the notification system have caused many to not be affected by the program until recently.

"The contractor that got the bid couldn't live up to their obligations of the contract, so it had to be resubmitted for bids," Carmon said. "You're looking at a couple of years delay in that. It's really put everything behind as far as collecting these surcharges."

Now that the system is up and running more efficiently, make no mistake about it: not paying the fines could be a costly mistake.