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Driver Responsibility Program
In addition to the changes to Michigan’s drunk driving laws, the Michigan Legislature passed another statute known as the “Driver Responsibility Program” Act. Although the new drunk driving law was purportedly passed unanimously in order to avoid losing federal dollars for highway construction, these funds were only estimated at $91.8 million over four years. That’s only a little shy of $23 million per year. The new “driver responsibility program” act, which was passed along with the new drunk driving laws, provides additional fines to drunk drivers through the Secretary of State.
Although the statute does not solely target drivers convicted of drunk driving, it targets primarily those motorists. The new law assess a $1,000.00 fine for two years to every person convicted of OWI and a $500.00 fine for two years to every person convicted of OWVI.
With local courts already charging excessive “court costs” far greater than the statutory fines for alcohol related offenses, simple math shows that this law was passed in order to tax Michigan’s citizens as a steep “sin tax.”
According to state records under the old law, 26,330 people were convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2002, and 28,770 were convicted of driving while impaired. That number alone adds up to $40.7 million annually under the fees set forth in the “driver responsibility program” act, far more than our State faced losing with the new federal mandate of only $23 million. The $40 million figure does not include fines assessed against driver’s facing nominal sums each year for driving points and various civil infractions.
When confronted with the dilemma of losing almost a hundred million dollars over four years or changing our State’s laws, our state legislators opted to change the laws, keep federal highway funds, and to collect an addition $163 million dollars over a four year period.
As a result of these new sanctions, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan states that, “[i]t is expected that there will be an increase in the people driving on a suspended license . . .” Driving on a suspended license also incurs an annual fine of $500.00 per year for two years.
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